Regent Taipei GM pleads guilty in Taiwan Cement chief’s death

Suspended charges for general manager, designer and two architects 

Investigators at the scene of the accident on Jan. 24.

Investigators at the scene of the accident on Jan. 24. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The general manager of the Regent Taipei, a designer and two architects pleaded guilty and received suspended charges Friday in the death of Taiwan Cement Corporation (台泥) Chairman Leslie Koo (辜成允) last January.

After attending a wedding banquet at the hotel on January 22, Koo, 63, slipped down a staircase and hit his head on the floor, leading to his death in hospital two days later.

Ten months of investigations by prosecutors confirmed the earlier allegations that the staircase should have had a railing installed in the middle because it was more than 3 meters wide.

Hotel General Manager Melvin Yang (楊雋翰) and the three others expressed regret over the accident and donated NT$3.1 million (US$103,000) to the treasury, as Koo’s heirs, one of the most influential business families in the country, said they would not sue and hoped there would be donations to charities.

While the regulation about central railings did not exist when the hotel was built 30 years ago, it was still a public place and should have conformed to the changed regulations, prosecutors ruled, according to a report by the Chinese-language Apple Daily.

The investigators performed an autopsy on the tycoon’s body and conducted a reconstruction of the incident with fashion mannequins borrowed from a clothing store, reports said.

The hotel later installed a railing in the middle of the staircase to prevent any further accidents.