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Taiwan High Court denies Li Kuo-hui medical parole ahead of retrial for deadly fire

Supreme Court has overturned Li's death sentence, sent case back to High Court three times

Li Kuo-hui (left)

Li Kuo-hui (left) (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taiwan High Court has ruled convicted arsonist Li Kuo-hui (李國輝) will remain in custody while he awaits his next retrial and denied his request for medical parole due to liver disease.

Li, a Chinese Cambodian who acquired Taiwanese citizenship, said during a hearing last Wednesday (March 16) that he had been suffering from a bile duct condition for several months, CNA reported. His lawyer asked the judges to consider whether it is suitable for Li to be remanded into custody.

The judges pointed out that Li had been allowed hospital visits to treat hepatitis C and other conditions. They denied his request for medical parole on the grounds that his conditions are not life-threatening and that the prison where he is being held provides a sufficient level of medical care.

The judges said the reasons for Li's detention still exist and ordered him to be remanded for two months.

On Nov. 22, 2017, Li set fire to the apartment he was renting, which caused nine deaths and five injuries. He claimed that he had not intended to kill anyone and only learned about the deaths from the news.

The defendant claimed he had been taunted by the voices of Cambodians broadcast through social media. In order to escape the voices, he moved into a rental apartment in New Taipei City’s Zhonghe District. However, Li insisted he continued to hear voices, this time from other apartments, causing him to become distraught and start the blaze.

Li has received the death penalty a total of four times in previous trials.

The New Taipei District Court sentenced Li to death. He appealed, and the case went to the High Court, which upheld the sentence. When Li appealed again, the case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which overturned the sentence and sent the case back to the High Court. At the retrial, the High Court again handed down a death sentence. However, the sentence was appealed and then overruled by the Supreme Court.

During the second retrial, the High Court maintained that Li's intention had been to kill and that, despite long-term drug use, his mental state was normal when he committed the crime. The court again sentenced him to death in April last year. Li once again appealed the decision with the Supreme Court, which ruled the second retrial had not conducted a thorough investigation into Li’s motive or whether he was fit for trial.

The Supreme Court therefore overturned the sentence and sent the case back to the High Court for another retrial.