Back to list

Apple Daily: Lingering questions after execution of metro killer

2016/05/12 18:46:37

Cheng Chieh (center / CNA photo May 22, 2014).

It is too late now to ask why Cheng Chieh (鄭捷), a man who killed four people in a Taipei metro attack in 2014, was executed with such haste, but there are other questions that must be asked as random killings become more frequent in Taiwan.

Some people might say that Cheng, 23, was a psychopath who deserved to die, but this does not help in the effort to understand and prevent other random killings.

One relevant question is how does a young man like Cheng, from an average middle-class family, become a random killer? What problems did he experience during early childhood, his school years and in his relationships?

After his arrest in 2014 for the MRT killings, he told investigators that he had developed a hatred for two female classmates in elementary school and started thinking back then about killing people.

When Cheng graduated from high school, he enrolled in military school to bide his time until he could start killing but was kicked out of military school, he told investigators.

Most people experience hatred at some point in their lives but normally do not resort to murder.

Cheng was a 21-year student at Tunghai University when he launched the random attack on passengers in the Taipei metro, killing four people and injuring 22 others.

Had there been any intervention in his life in the long period between elementary school and university, would his desire to kill have abated and the course of his actions changed?

The crux of this case is not about the merits or demerits of capital punishment but rather the issue of how people like Cheng have become the norm in Taiwan society.

In the absence of an answer to that question, one must ask why Cheng was executed so hastily, just 19 days after the Supreme Court gave a ruling that upheld the death sentence against him.

Our psychologists, educationists and criminologists did not have time to study the case in depth to gain information that could have been useful in the future.

Cheng's execution may appear to have been a matter of justice being served, but was it really?

A deeper look will reveal the doubts buried in that question. (Editorial abstract - May 12, 2016) (Summarized by Lilian Wu)