Taiwan's jailed ex-president Chen Shui-bian tries to hang himself

Chen Shui-bian was reportedly upset over exclusion from legal amnesty for funds use

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 June, 2013, 4:37am

Imprisoned former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian tried to commit suicide by hanging himself with a towel on Sunday, but was stopped by wardens, Taiwan's justice ministry said.

Chen, 62 and serving a 20-year term for corruption, tied a bath towel to a shower pipe about 90cm from the ground in the bathroom of his cell in a prison hospital in Taichung, central Taiwan, on Sunday night, the ministry's Corrections Agency said yesterday.

Agency officials said prison guards noticed something odd on the closed-circuit monitoring system and stopped Chen from trying to hang himself.

"We immediately asked hospital personnel at Pei De Hospital to check his blood pressure, heart beat and other life signs, which later turned out to be all right," an agency spokesman said.

He said the prison authorities had arranged for psychologists and related personnel to hold consultations with Chen yesterday, and he had been offered some life education courses to help ease his frustrations.

Chen was upset after learning that he had been excluded from a newly revised law that spares those charged or jailed for illegally using special funds meant for public functions.

The Supreme Court found Chen guilty of accepting bribes through a government science park development plan and a personnel appointment case. He was also charged with illegal use of a special presidential fund in a separate graft case that is still going through the courts.

Chen's son said yesterday it was totally unfair for his father to be excluded from the revised accounting law, approved by the legislature on Friday.

President Ma Ying-jeou, however, told local media executives that Chen had been convicted for accepting bribes, which was different from the special funds case. The media executives quoted Ma as saying that Chen was still being investigated in several other graft cases.

Chen was taken into custody shortly after he stepped down as president in 2008 and he was sentenced to 20 years' jail in 2010 for accepting bribes during his time in office between 2000 and 2008.

He has staged three hunger strikes in prison, leading to the deterioration of his health and serious depression, doctors and his son said.