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Taiwan ex-President Chen Shui-bian denies hospital move
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2012-10-11 05:35 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Former President Chen Shui-bian on Thursday rejected reports that he might soon move to a hospital in either Tamshui or Kaohsiung, three weeks after he underwent tests at Taipei’s Veterans General Hospital.

Chen and his family said right from the start that they preferred him to stay at a hospital in Southern Taiwan, where most of his relatives live. His son also accused the Veterans General Hospital of being too pro-government.

Chen, who has been sentenced to 17 years and six months in prison on corruption charges, was diagnosed as suffering from severe depression. The former head of state should receive specialized treatment at a psychiatric hospital, doctors who tested him after September 21 said.

However, on Thursday afternoon, Chen’s office released a statement saying he was planning to stay at the Taipei hospital. During the period of the tests, Chen and the group of doctors treating him had established bonds of mutual trust, so he had accepted to stay at the Veterans General Hospital to receive further treatment, the statement said.

A doctor close to the former president said the Taipei Prison had forced him to choose between returning to jail or staying at his present hospital, reports said.

The Chinese-language United Evening News reported Thursday that the Taipei Prison sent a representative to the Mackay Memorial Hospital in Tamshui, New Taipei City, last Monday to take a look at the rooms and the equipment. The hospital was willing to accept him, but the prison and the Ministry of Justice denied the report that Chen’s transfer was imminent. The Mackay Memorial Hospital is under the jurisdiction of the Presbyterian Church, which has close links to the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which Chen led to power in 2000.

However, Ko Wen-je, a National Taiwan University Hospital physician who has spearheaded a campaign to get Chen released on medical parole, reportedly had private discussions with a hospital director in Kaohsiung to explore the possibilities of him receiving treatment there. Most of the former president’s relatives now live in the southern city.

The hospital said that it had not been contacted yet, but that it would be willing to treat Chen just as it would any other patient.

The government has repeatedly refused to grant Chen long-term outside treatment, leading to concern about his human rights. His son Chen Chih-chung publicly expressed distrust in the Veterans General Hospital, an institution closely associated with the military and known for treating former Kuomintang leaders. Since the ex-president entered the hospital in late September, his son and other relatives have repeatedly criticized his treatment there.

The Taipei Prison has minimized his ailments and prevented him from choosing a hospital of his own choice. At first, it reasoned that those hospitals did not possess the right equipment to perform the necessary medical tests, but those charges were later rebuffed by the hospitals themselves.

A human rights team from the United States visited Taiwan last month to learn more about his situation.

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