Cheng randomly killed four passengers and injured 22 on a Taipei Metro train on May 21, 2014. The Supreme Court on April 22 upheld lower court verdicts which gave Cheng four death sentences, one for each fatal victim.
Cheng’s execution only 19 days after the Supreme Court's verdict took Taiwan’s society by surprise as there are still 42 death row inmates in Taiwan, some of whom committed even crueler crimes much earlier. Moreover, the timing of the execution, which is near May 20 when the new government will be sworn in, also raises questions.
Luo has approved the executions of a total of 12 condemned convicts at three different times since she first took office two and a half years ago. She said now her list of Pariṇāmanā includes Cheng.
In explaining why Cheng was executed much sooner than other death row inmates, Luo said Cheng committed the violence in broad daylight in a subway train full of passengers has severely damaged the sense of security in the society and cast shadow of fear over riding the public transit. The execution was implemented to help restore law and order in the society, she added.
Luo also said that the clear evidence and complete investigation in Cheng’s case was another reason for the speedy execution.
She said she knew that some death row inmates actually prefer to be executed sooner than later, and Cheng was one of them.
When asked about the timing of the execution, Luo said she just did what she had to do before leaving the government, adding that she didn’t even notify President Ma Ying-jeou of the execution in advance. “President Ma always told me to do as prescribed by law with regard to implementation of death penalty,” she added.
Lee Jui-chang, whose elder sister, Lee Tsui-yun, was among four killed in the attack on May 21 last year, was a little surprised by the speedy execution of Cheng but said it was in line with the society’s expectation.
KMT deputy legislative caucus whip Alicia Wang said the implementation of the execution rendered justice to victims; while People First Party caucus convener Lee Hung-chun said it was the best lesson for people with the same criminal mind.
Minister of Justice-designate Chiu Tai-san said he didn’t know about the execution until he heard the news. Earlier Chiu said he would take no specific stance on death penalty and would go with the old mechanism to handle death penalty after taking office.