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Court rules former president and first lady should serve 20 years in jail

2013/02/22 22:37:36

Taipei, Feb. 22 (CNA) Former President Chen Shui-bian and his wife should each serve 20 years in prison, a high court ruled Friday, as a government ombudsman suggested that medical parole for Chen might be in order.

In addition to the prison terms of the former first couple, the Taiwan High Court also ordered Chen and Wu Shu-chen to pay NT$250 million and NT$200 million in fines, respectively.

The ruling was announced as an official report concluded that "an appropriate medical environment is urgently needed (for Chen) in order to prevent unforeseen accidents from happening."

The report is sanctioned by the Control Yuan, an independent agency which reviews government policy and practices.

When asked whether Chen is eligible for medical parole, Huang Huang-hsiung, a member of the Control Yuan and the author of the report, said that "it is implied" in the report.

However, Huang added that it is up to the executive branch of the government to decide whether to grant Chen medical parole. Huang was an opposition party member of the parliament before being named a member of the Control Yuan in 1999.

At a press conference, Huang played video footages showing the former president nearly falling over when asked to walk a straight line in the hospital.

Chen appeared to stammer and his hands shook involuntarily, which his supporters said were symptons of Parkinson's disease.

Responding to the report, a senior Ministry of Justice official said that everything has been done with a limited budget to improve the medical care for Chen at the Taipei General Veterans Hospital, where the 62-year-old former president has been treated since last September for suspected depression and other health problems.

Chen Sho-huang, vice minister of justice, said that opinions expressed in the report would be noted and further improvements made accordingly.

Chen Shui-bian was transferred to the hospital from a prison in New Taipei City, where he was serving an 18-year prison term for corruption committed while he was president of Taiwan from 2000 to 2008.

The former first lady, who is wheelchair bound, was judged unfit to serve her prison term of 17.5 years.

The Taiwan High Court based its decision to combine all the prison terms of the first couple on Article 51 of the Criminal Code before it was amended in 2005, because the crimes had all been committed before that time, said legal experts.

The original article stipulated that the maximum combined term for any individual given multiple sentences should be 20 years, unless those sentences include life in prison.

(By Tsai Pei-chi and Jay Chen)
ENDITM/cs