Chen’s jail conditions to improve: justice minister

Staff writer, with CNA

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 - Page 3

Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) yesterday said that he is to ask Taipei Prison to improve the conditions in which former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is being held after he concludes his hospital treatment outside the jail.

Tseng said Chen is already receiving better treatment than other inmates, but the Ministry of Justice has still asked the prison to improve Chen’s conditions.

“We cannot specify how much will be done for now, but his environment will definitely be improved,” Tseng said during a question-and-answer session at the legislature.

Tseng made the remarks after Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Su Ching-chuan (蘇清泉) said that since Chen was recently diagnosed with major depression, some people from the opposition camp have expressed concern that the he should be kept in solitary confinement, away from other inmates, and that the focus should be on treatment for his condition.

Chen’s cell is “too small,” Su said.

Prison representatives have previously said Chen’s cell, which he shares with another prisoner, is 6m2.

According to political commentator Michelle Wang (王美琇), Chen and his cellmate get about 2m2 each after considering space for the latrine and other items.

Chen was admitted to the Taipei Veterans General Hospital on Sept. 21 for a detailed examination in light of his health problems.

Hospital officials said Chen is suffering from severe depression and should be transferred to a specialized psychiatric hospital and that a change of environment is considered important for his treatment.

Tseng said the question about whether Chen should be granted medical parole will only arise if doctors recommend that this would be the only way to improve his health condition.