Taiwan says former president attempted suicide


Taiwan’s imprisoned former president Chen Shui-bian tried to kill himself but was stopped by guards, Taiwan’s Justice Ministry said on Monday.


A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said Chen, who was in a stable condition on Monday, used a towel to try to kill himself on Sunday night in a bathroom at Taichung prison in central Taiwan.

He did not elaborate on how the towel was employed or comment on any injuries Chen may have suffered.

The 62-year-old is serving a 20-year sentence for corruption offences committed during his 2000-2008 presidential tenure.

According to the Ministry of Justice, Chen tried to take his own life to protest his corruption conviction, part of which was based on his use of a special presidential fund to carry out secret Taiwanese diplomacy.

The ministry said that after his failed suicide attempt, Chen emphasised that using the fund did not constitute corruption.

Last week Chen announced he was applying for readmission to the Democratic Progressive Party, the main opposition grouping, which he led during his presidency.

He left the party of his own volition after leaving the presidency in 2008.

The party has not formally responded to Chen’s application, but current party leaders have made it clear they fear that his readmission could harm their attempts to cleanse the party of the aura of corruption.

The Ministry of Justice said on Monday that this may have contributed to Chen’s actions.

“The reasons could be that he was unable to apply for readmission to the Democratic Progressive Party and as well the stress from his corruption conviction, this may have lead him to (commit) this suicidal act,” spokesperson, Wen Shu-jang, said.

Chen has been receiving medical treatment in recent months for a series of health problems, including a heart ailment.

His office has been pressing for his release on medical parole, citing his poor health and his depressed state of mind.

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