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

A ministry statement said Mr. Chen used a towel to try to kill himself on Sunday night in a bathroom at Taichung prison in central Taiwan.

Without commenting on any injuries Mr. Chen may have suffered, the statement said he was in a stable condition at the prison, which is part of a hospital compound.

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

The statement quoted Mr. Chen as saying that he 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 in comments after the failed suicide attempt that Mr. Chen emphasized that using the fund did not constitute corruption.

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

Last week Mr. Chen announced he was applying for re-admission to the Democratic Progressive Party, the main opposition group, which he led during his presidency.

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


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