Taiwan’s jailed ex-leader Chen Shui-bian has ‘severe depression’

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 October, 2012, 7:43pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

Taiwan’s jailed ex-president Chen Shui-bian is suffering from “severe” depression and requires psychiatric treatment, a hospital said on Thursday.

Chen was convicted of bribery in 2009 and is serving a prison term of 17 years and six months, while facing several additional graft charges stemming from his time as president between 2000 and 2008.

The 61-year-old was treated in a hospital near his prison last month after he developed urinal problems and was later transferred to the Taipei Veterans General Hospital for a comprehensive check-up, authorities said.

“Chen is diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety disorder, both of which have become chronic,” the hospital said in a statement without elabourating. It recommended further treatment at a specialised hospital.

Chen has also developed stuttering which might be linked to mental illness or a degeneration of his brain as well as problems with his prostate and sleep apnoea – a sleep disorder characterised by abnormal breathing – the hospital said.

The ex-leader sought medical parole earlier this year when he was diagnosed with a narrowing of his coronary arteries, but the justice ministry denied it on the ground that he could get proper treatment in prison.

The ministry has so far only ever granted medical paroles to 22 inmates diagnosed with terminal diseases.

Chen and family members have been accused in a complex network of cases of sending political donations and secret diplomatic funds abroad, laundering millions of US dollars and taking kickbacks on government contracts.

The ex-leader says that the legal action against him is a political vendetta carried out by the Beijing-friendly government in retaliation for his policies promoting Taiwan’s independence while in power.