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Woman detained for allegedly causing Kaohsiung fire in Taiwan

Female suspect nods when asked if she feels wronged, male suspect released on bail

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A woman surnamed Huang has been detained on charges of reckless burning, negligent homicide.

A woman surnamed Huang has been detained on charges of reckless burning, negligent homicide. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A woman surnamed Huang (黃) has been detained after providing contradicting accounts about the deadly Kaohsiung building fire to police and prosecutors, while her boyfriend surnamed Kuo (郭) has been released on bail.

Prosecutors accused Huang, 51, and Kuo, 52, of criminal offenses including reckless burning of a residence and negligent homicide, CNA reported. Prosecutors released Kuo after he posted a NT$60,000 (US$ 2,146) bail but detained Huang for making statements that did not match on-site evidence, to prevent her from fleeing, colluding with witnesses, and tampering with evidence.

According to CNA, the Kaohsiung District Court said that since Huang stands accused of causing multiple deaths and injuries and does not have an income, it is believed she has reason to flee if released.

A task force found that Huang habitually leaves incense burning, and on the day of the fire she had left embers by a sofa before leaving the building, which may then have caused the fire that took 46 lives. The task force also accused Kuo of negligence, as he had known about Huang’s habit but failed to remind her before leaving.

Kaohsiung District Prosecutors spent the entire day on Friday (Oct. 15) questioning Huang and Kuo, and by the time the court approved the detainment of Huang it was 11 p.m., CNA reported.

As Huang exited the court to be escorted to Kaohsiung Second Prison, she responded to reporters asking whether she felt wronged by nodding, per CNA. However, when reporters asked her why she felt wronged, she stayed silent.