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Talk of the Day -- Supreme Court overturns death sentence

Talk of the Day -- Supreme Court overturns death sentence

The Supreme Court rejected Monday a death sentence handed down to a murderer and ordered a re-trial by the High Court, in a controversial decision that highlights the obstacles to abolishing capital punishment in Taiwan. The defendant, 31-year-old Chen Kun-ming, clubbed a woman to death in October 2010 just a few months after having served an abbreviated jail sentence for killing two young sisters seven years earlier. The following are excerpts from reports in major local newspapers on the Supreme Court's decision: Liberty Times: The Supreme Court based its ruling on the diagnosis by a total of seven hospitals that say the defendant suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, even though they also said that at the time of the crime in 2010, the defendant's cognitive ability was not diminished as a result of his illness. In its verdict, the court cited a U.N. resolution and Taiwan's subscription to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In 2000, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution that urges all states that use the death penalty "not to impose it on a person suffering from any form of mental disorder." Since the original sentence, handed down by a district court and upheld by the High Court, has been overturned by the highest court, the retrial is expected to result in a jail term rather than another death sentence. "The ruling goes against the people's expectations and most people will find it impossible to accept," said Liang Yu-fang, director of the White Rose Social Care Association, a non-profit organization that campaigns against lenient sentences for crimes against children. "The question of whether to keep the death penalty should be left to the consensus of the people and the punishment should not be abolished until a criminal can be put behind bars for life," she said. China Times: In April 2003, Chen lured a pair of sisters aged 7 and 8 to a spot under a bridge in Taipei, killed them and dumped their bodies in the river. After he was caught, he claimed that a "demon" in his heart told him to commit the double murder. During a lengthy trial and retrial process, his sentence was reduced from life to 12 years on account of mental disorder at the time of the crime and compensation paid to the family of the victims. He got out of jail after serving only six years, thanks to a general amnesty. In October 2010, a 27-year-old woman went to a house rented by Chen to apply for a job as a shop assistant after seeing an advertisement he had posted. Chen told her to come back the next day and when she did, he attacked her with a wooden club, killing her. Chen then wrapped her body in a quilt, hid it in a storage room and cleaned the house of bloodstains. During the trial, he claimed the victim mocked him and a voice told him to attack her. Even if Chen is given a life sentence in the re-trial, he will be eligible to seek parole after spending 15 years in prison. "He could be out before he turns 50 and there is no guarantee that he won't kill someone else," one legal observer noted.


Updated : 2021-04-19 23:11 GMT+08:00