Parents of slain Taiwanese cop fume at not-guilty verdict

Man who stabbed cop judged to be suffering from schizophrenia and therefore could not be found guilty

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Lee Cheng-han's mother and father. 

Lee Cheng-han's mother and father.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The parents of railway police officer Lee Cheng-han (李承翰), who was stabbed to death by a passenger, are reportedly furious at the not-guilty verdict handed down by Chiayi District Court judges on Thursday (April 30).

The verdict prompted Lee’s mother to say, “If killing police is not a crime, who would dare be a police officer?” CNA reported. Lee was stabbed to death by a passenger surnamed Cheng (鄭) on July 3 last year, during an altercation stemming from a ticket issue.

In response to the sentence, the slain cop’s mother urged the nation's justice system to ensure her son did not die in vain, according to the report. She made clear the sentence was unacceptable, not only to her and her husband, but also to their relatives, friends and neighbors, per CNA.

Severe sentences are necessary if arbitrary killings are to be eradicated and society is made safe, the mother said. She added that a police officer's job is tough enough already, without seeing killers get away with their crimes.

The mother went on to say that she and her husband had a hard time adjusting to life without their son. She said that when she sat in the living room and watched TV, she would often think of her son, who would routinely park his vehicle at the back of the house after work, come in and make tea for them, per CNA.

The mother said sorrow creeps up on her all morning and she's often reminded of him by personal items in the house, or foods he liked to eat. She said her son came to her in a dream once, telling her the pain was gone and his wounds were healed.

New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), who once served as NPA chief, told media that an investigation by prosecutors found that even though the defendant was conscious of what he was doing and could control his behavior, he was nevertheless a schizophrenic. The not-guilty verdict was based on Article 19 of the Criminal Code that directs acquittal for an offense committed by an individual suffering from a mental disorder.

Hou said interpretation of the law in this case was flawed because the man's illness didn't meet the threshold of Article 19. Since the man was conscious of what he was doing, the illness was not severe enough to disqualify him from being found guilty.

Hence, Article 19 should not have been invoked, Hou opined. Furthermore, he added, the judgment ran contrary to public sentiment, which demanded proportionate punishment.