Taiwan's Supreme Court strikes down death sentence for man who ran over estranged wife and her lawyer

The court ruled the man qualified for a commutation of his sentence because he confessed to his crime

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Taiwan's Supreme Court. (Wikipedia photo)

Taiwan's Supreme Court. (Wikipedia photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan’s Supreme Court struck down a death sentence for a man, surnamed Hung, who killed his estranged wife and her lawyer, China Times reported on Thursday (June 13).

The court did so because there should have been an investigation into whether the man was qualified for a commutation of his sentence for confessing to his crime, thereby sending back the case for a retrial.

The sentencing document said Hung filed a lawsuit to divorce his wife, surnamed Lee, and both parties went to Tainan District Court on July 17, 2017, to negotiate a settlement, according to China Times. Lee was accompanied by her lawyer Huang Cheng-hsiung (黃政雄), and after a divorce settlement was reached, Hung left the court in his minivan, the news outlet said.

Hung saw Lee and Huang walking and talking and it seemed to him that Huang was celebrating a victory, which enraged Hung, according to China Times. As a result, he ran both of them over, stopped the car, and emerged to make calls on his mobile.

Both Lee and her lawyer died after being treated in hospital. Hung was sentenced to death in the first and second trials.

However, the Supreme Court said the issue was whether Hung voluntarily confessed to his crime before police and prosecutors went after him. This was an important factor as it determined whether he qualified for a commutation of the sentence.

As for the claims for damages arising from civil litigation, Tainan District Court ruled that Hung must pay the families of the deceased more than NT$27.92 million (about US$890,000).