Taipei - Taiwan's former two-time President Chen Shui-bian, who was sentenced to 17 and half years in prison, was granted permission to leave his jail to undergo surgery for a coronary problem. This is the first time he left prison since his conviction, except for a brief, closely supervised furlough for his mother-in-law's funeral.
The former president has always been politically opposed to Beijing. Along with his party, he tried for eight years to stir Taiwan away from the mainland in social and economic affairs.
After current President Ma Ying-jeou, of the Kuomintang, won the presidency, Chen was dragged before a court on dubious corruption charges. Both he and his wife were convicted and received hard sentences.
After the disgraced former leader complained about chest pain, prison doctors Okayed his furlough on medical grounds because they did not have sufficient medical resources to treat him inside the facility.
At the Taoyuan General Hospital, Chen received a comprehensive check-up that showed coronary artery disease. Doctors also found Chen had a tumour in his prostate and would need to perform further tests to determine if it was malignant.
"We recommend that he remain in hospital for a surgical operation [on Thursday] morning," said Wang Wei-chieh, a hospital spokesman.
The patient is expected to stay in hospital for about a week.
Since he has been in hospital, he had also been able to receive visits from his 86-year-old mother as well as his son and daughter.
Chen's wife, Wu Shu-chen, who is serving her sentence under house arrest due to serious health problems, did not go to the hospital.