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Huashan murderer escapes death penalty after Taiwan Supreme Court upholds life sentence

Taipei District Court originally sentenced defendant to death in August 2019

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Chen Po-chien (front right)

Chen Po-chien (front right) (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The legal drama of a man found guilty of raping, killing, and dismembering a woman on the lawn behind Taipei's Huashan 1914 Creative Park in 2018 has finally come to an end, following the Taiwan Supreme Court's decision to uphold a lower court’s life sentence on Wednesday (Feb. 23).

Chen Po-chien (陳伯謙), an archery instructor, was indicted in August 2018 on charges of murder and sexual assault in addition to abandoning and destroying a corpse. The victim, surnamed Kao (高), was a female member of an archery class Chen organized and taught on the lawn of Taipei's Huashan 1914 Creative Park.

On May 31, 2018, Chen and Kao spent time together and consumed alcohol. Chen admitted that he tried to rape Kao.

Chen strangled Kao, dismembered her body, and scattered it around a remote part of Yangmingshan National Park. He then spent the money he found in her purse.

The Taipei District Court sentenced Chen to death in August 2019. The defendant appealed the case to the Taiwan High Court, which sentenced the defendant to life in prison in April 2020 on the grounds that he had confessed to the murder.

However, the case went all the way to the Supreme Court.

In Oct. 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that Chen had misled the investigation several times by giving false information and that the High Court had failed to consider this when it decided to reduce the punishment. Therefore, the Supreme Court revoked the lower court’s ruling and demanded a retrial.

The High Court upheld its previous sentence of life imprisonment on Chen in Sept. 2021, ruling that he was still corrigible. In Taiwan, life imprisonment means a minimum of 25 years in jail before becoming eligible for parole.

The ruling was again appealed to the Supreme Court, which on Wednesday, upheld the lower court’s life sentence for the 30-year-old Chen.