Ex-Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian released on medical parole

TAIPEI - Former President Chen Shui-bian was officially released on parole yesterday at 3:30 pm from Taichung Prison, where he has spent the last six years on charges of corruption.

The announcement of Chen's release was made at a press conference at 11:30 am by the Agency of Corrections. Deputy Justice Minister Chen Ming-tang stated that the Corrections Agency's evaluation council of 10 members consulted a medical evaluation council and determined that the former president's condition had become increasingly serious as of May 2014.

The deputy minister explained that Chen Shui-bian has been suffering gradual nerve damage to his brain and inflammation in the lungs as well as showing symptoms of septicemia.

Chen was welcomed home in Kaohsiung yesterday by several thousand supporters, many of whom began to gather around his residence in downtown Kaohsiung at 2 pm Members of the Taiwan North Society travelled from Taipei to express their support. Some of the supporters shouted "A-bian is innocent," and "Go Chen!" Before arriving at the family residence at around 6 pm, the motorcade stopped to allow Chen to take a shower and get a haircut in a motel.

The Taichung City Police Headquarters stated that police escorted Chen Shui-bian's motorcade from Taichung Prison onto the national highway bearing south and toward the former president's residence in Southern Taiwan. The motorcade was permitted to drive at a slow speed, allowing for the press to take pictures.

Chen Chi-chung posted a photo on Facebook soon after picking his father up from the Taichung facility showing the former president in the car wearing a green sweater and a baseball cap that said "the Bian case is a political persecution" in Chinese.

The Taichung District Prosecutor's Office ruled that the former president is to be allowed medical parole for a period of one month with bail of NT$2 million (S$83,290). Koo Kuan-min, a former senior advisor to Chen Shui-bian, paid the bail amount and former DPP legislator Liu Wen-ching acted as Chen Shui-bian's guarantor.

Chen Ming-tang stated that according to the conditions of the medical parole, the former president's family members have full responsibility to provide medical treatment at their residence and submit a review of the progress of his medical treatment. The deputy justice minister said that if Chen makes a full recovery, he must return to prison. However, if his health does not improve, Chen can apply to extend the parole.

Following the Corrections Agency's announcement, Koo Kuan-min had NT$2 million in cash brought from Taipei to the Taichung district prosecutor. Liu Wen-ching acted as the guarantor and processed the transaction. Soon after, Chen Shui-bian's son, Chen Chi-chung along with Liu guided the former president out of the facility in a wheelchair, where they were greeted by approximately 300 cheering supporters. Chen Shui-bian was flanked by nurses and waved to supporters upon entering a car.

Chen Shui-bian served as president from 2000-2008 and has spent the last six years in Taichung Prison as part of a 20-year sentence.