Supreme Court judges on Wednesday hear a debate on whether a man who has been sentenced to death by a lower court for killing his ex-wife and daughter should “live or die” for the crime he committed.
According to the court verdict, Lee Hung-chi tried to take his two daughters away from his ex-wife, surnamed Chen, when she was taking them to a kindergarten on a morning in April, 2014. After some pushing and shoving, Lee killed his ex-wife with a knife in front of the kindergarten with a crowd of people watching, and then took his six-year-old daughter with him.
The next morning Lee and his daughter were found committing suicide by burning charcoal in his car in a mountainous area in Hsinchu County. Lee survived after being rescued, but his daughter died after treatment.
The Kaohsiung District Court held that Lee could be recidivated and therefore sentenced him to 15 years in prison for killing his ex-wife, but gave him a life imprisonment sentence for killing his daughter.
In the second trial and a retrial, Taiwan High Court Kaohsiung Branch Court changed the sentence to life imprisonment for killing his ex-wife and sentenced him to death for killing his daughter.
The Supreme Court heard the case on Wednesday and chief judge Hung Chang-hung said in the opening statement that the focus of the hearing was not on the facts surrounding the crime as they were not contested but rather on whether the death and life imprisonment sentences that Lee received are in line with related conventions on human rights. Hung also said he had asked whether Lee would like to participate in the debate via video conferencing, but Lee refused.
Lee’s attorney said his client had no intent to kill before committing the crime as his purpose was to take his daughters away, adding that Lee said some nasty remarks during trials in the high court was to make the court sentence him to death, which he eventually got but the gravity of the sentence was questionable.
Chen’s father and lawyer said the defendant had not apologized to the victim’s family and that Lee never asked how his own daughter had been after he was released from hospital. They said the punishment of death sentence fits the crime and asked the country's highest court to reject the appeal.
Prosecutors said Lee killed his ex-wife out of hate, which was unfortunate, but killing his daughter is detestable and cannot be forgiven, asking the court to uphold the high court’s death sentence.
The Supreme Court announced in the end that sentencing for the case is set on Dec 28.