Taiwan's ex-president transferred to prison hospital

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan's ailing former president Chen Shui-bian has been transferred to a prison hospital to continue serving his 20-year jail term for corruption, the justice ministry said on Friday.

Chen was taken to a hospital for inmates in central Taiwan early Friday from a public hospital in Taipei, where he had spent several months being treated for depression and other health problems, it said.

Doctors have recommended home care for the 62-year-old, who is diagnosed with severe depression, a nerve disorder and other conditions, according to medical documents released by his office.

The ministry said in a statement that home care is not an option for inmates, while Chen does not qualify for immediate parole on medical grounds as he can receive necessary treatment at the prison hospital.

Some of Chen's supporters were angry and accused the government of President Ma Ying-jeou of making a politically-motivated decision to deny him medical parole.

"The Ma administration's abrupt move was harmful to Chen's health and his human rights. It also violated professional media judgement," said Mr Lee Chun-yee, a spokesman for the opposition Democratic Progressive Party that Chen once led.

Chen and his family have been accused of laundering millions of dollars by sending political donations and secret diplomatic funds abroad, and taking kickbacks on government contracts during his 2000-2008 presidency.

Chen was first sentenced to life imprisonment in 2009 on multiple graft convictions. His sentence was later reduced after appeals.