Jailed former Taiwan leader freed for funeral

Updated: 2012-01-06 17:30


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TAIPEI - Former leader of Taiwan Chen Shui-bian, who is currently serving a prison sentence for graft, attended the funeral of his recently deceased mother-in-law on Friday, after being granted a special release from prison for about eight hours.

Chen arrived Friday morning at a funeral home in the city of Tainan to pay his respects to Wu Wang Hsia, who died on December 31 at the age of 85. Friday, which marks the seventh day after her death, was the traditional family mourning day.

Chen was not shackled or handcuffed, as was authorized by the island's legal department due to his former leadership position. But Chen was escorted by prison officers and local police.

At the funeral, Chen went down on his knees, performed traditional rites and gave a eulogy. Chen also saw his wife Wu Shu-chen, his mother, and his son and daughter at the mourning ceremony.

He was escorted back to the Taipei Prison after staying in Tainan for two hours.

Chen and his wife were each sentenced to 17.5 years in prison for corruption and money laundering during Chen's tenure as the leader of Taiwan from 2000 to 2008. Chen began serving his sentence in December 2010. It is the first time that a former leader of Taiwan has been jailed.

Confined to a wheelchair and in poor health, Wu was also fined 154 million New Taiwan dollars ($5 million), but her prison term was temporarily suspended by local prosecutors, as a prison hospital said she was physically unfit to serve her jail term and refused to admit her last February.