Taipei, Jan. 11 (CNA) Justice Minister Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) on Wednesday denied that his ministry was procrastinating on the execution of prisoners on death row, saying it was just being cautious.
"We have not said we will not carry out the executions," Chiu said. "We just want to be prudent in our implementation."
The allegations of the ministry dragging its feet on the execution of death sentences are "not true," Chiu said in response to reporters' questions on whether the government planned to carry out the execution of prisoners currently on death row.
The issue arose as the Taiwan High Court earlier in the day commuted a death sentence to life imprisonment in a case of robbery and murder.
The 31-year-old defendant, Hsieh Yi-han (謝依涵), was sentenced to death by the Shilin District Court in Taipei in October 2013, and the verdict was upheld in September 2014 by the Taiwan High Court.
But Taiwan's Supreme Court in February 2015 overturned the death sentence and remanded the case to the Taiwan High Court for review.
Hsieh was convicted of killing Shih Chien University assistant professor Chang Tsui-ping (張翠萍), 58, and her husband, Chen Chin-fu (陳進福), 79, then dumping their bodies in the Tamsui River in suburban Taipei, in February 2013.
The high court's ruling on Wednesday sparked outrage in some sectors of the society. Surveys have repeatedly shown that Taiwanese overwhelmingly favor retaining the death penalty.
Before taking office in May last year, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) had said that it would require social consensus, as well as comprehensive support and transition measures, to decide whether Taiwan should scrap or keep the death penalty.
(By Wang Yang-yu and Christie Chen)