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Taiwan ex-president Chen’s condition deteriorates
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-01-03 03:14 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Jailed former President Chen Shui-bian should be allowed home because his condition was deteriorating so fast that his ability to count was regressing to a primary school level, his medical team said Friday.

Chen returned to the Taichung Prison’s Pei Te Hospital on New Year’s Day after a stay at the Taichung Veterans General Hospital for sleep apnea surgery.

A group of doctors, attorneys and Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers made the call after a joint visit to the former president, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence on charges of corruption.

Chen was unable to calculate how much 100 minus seven was, said Ko Wen-je, the head of the trauma department at National Taiwan University Hospital and a prospective opposition candidate for Taipei City mayor. He said that more than a year ago, he had already been voicing concern about Chen’s condition, but nobody was prepared to believe him at the time.

If Chen is not released soon, something will happen to him within two and a half years, doctor Kuo Cheng-tien warned.

Ko called for more understanding, saying that treating enemies and prisoners in a humane way were signs of a civilized society. President Ma Ying-jeou needed to understand how Chen’s case could be solved in the way most beneficial to Taiwan society, Ko said.

The trauma expert gained prominence by launching an online petition calling for medical parole for Chen, who is now entering his sixth year in prison.

The ex-president and ex-mayor of Taipei loved politics, which could explain while he was still willing to give him advice for his electoral campaign, Ko told reporters. He denied that his outspoken support for Chen’s medical parole would harm his own chances with voters in Taipei.

Chen suffered from so many different ailments that his situation could lurch into a perilous condition at a moment’s notice, his attorney, Cheng Wen-lung, told Friday’s news conference. The ex-president has been diagnosed with a severe depression, a form of Parkinson’s disease, speech impediments, memory loss, incontinence and sleep apnea, he said.

The government should seriously consider suspending Chen’s imprisonment and allowing him to return home for treatment before the Lunar New Year later this month, Cheng said.

The news conference was also attended by Chen’s son, Chen Chih-chung, and by DPP lawmakers Hsu Tain-tsair, Chen Chi-mai, Chen Tan-sun, Wu Yi-chen and Chen Ting-fei.

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