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Acquittal of matricide defendant erodes confidence in Taiwan's justice system: Former DPP chair

Second trial of man convicted of mother's murder ended in acquittal last week, High Court ruled drug use caused him to lose control

Liang Tsung-ming (left)

Liang Tsung-ming (left) (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Former Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) said Saturday (Aug. 22) that the acquittal on Thursday (Aug. 20) of a man who murdered his mother is an example of the kind of abuse that has caused Taiwanese to lose confidence in the country’s criminal justice system.

Liang Tsung-ming (梁崇銘), 35, stabbed his 67-year-old mother multiple times after an argument on Oct. 17, 2018. He then decapitated her and hurled her head into a courtyard from their 12th-floor apartment in Taoyuan’s Jhongli District.

Liang was sentenced to life in prison in his first trial. However, in his second trial, which ended Thursday, a panel of High Court judges ruled that the defendant had been suffering from acute psychosis after consuming drugs, causing him to lose touch with reality. The judges acquitted him based on Article 19 of the country’s Criminal Code, which states that “an offense is not punishable" if committed by someone with a mental disorder or defect that leaves them unable or less able to judge their actions.

Cho complained in a Facebook post Saturday that “People are not allowed to drive after drinking alcohol, but are they allowed to kill people after taking drugs and drinking?”

Taiwan Statebuilding Party legislator Chen Po-wei (陳柏惟) on Facebook pointed out the dramatically different results of the two trials, saying the disparity has not only puzzled people but caused instability in society. He added that this is the type of thing the recently passed Citizen Judges Act is meant to eliminate.

In addition, Ministry of Justice officials said Friday night that the ministry's Institute of Forensic Medicine has confirmed that Liang had taken drugs before committing the crime, but they have never made any assessment of Liang’s mental health, per CNA.