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Court upholds death sentence for knifeman in Taipei metro attack (update)

2016/04/22 14:23:19

The Supreme Court. (CNA file photo)

●May 10: Ministry of Justice carries out execution of 2014 metro attacker

Taipei, April 22 (CNA) Taiwan's Supreme Court on Friday upheld the death sentence imposed by a lower court on Cheng Chieh (鄭捷), who killed four people and injured 22 others in a random knife attack on a Taipei Metro train in May 2014.

Cheng, a 21-year-old college student at the time of the attack, was given one death sentence for each of the four lives he took by a district court in Taipei in March 2015.

Under Taiwan law, cases in which the death sentence has been imposed must go all the way to the Supreme Court.

In its final verdict, the Supreme Court said the death penalty was retained because there was clear evidence to prove the defendant had indeed committed an act defined one of the most severe crimes by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights -- two United Nations human rights instruments.

In explaining its verdict, the court said that Cheng was arrested on the scene of the crime and there was strong evidence that he was of clear mind when he committed the act. Cheng was not found to have any mental disorders or loss of faculties, the court said.

In the lower court, the defendant was given four death sentences, a punishment "commensurate with the crime committed," the Supreme Court said.

It said the rulings handed down by the courts must be based on the laws of the country, which still include capital punishment.

[Cheng Chieh attends a court hearing after the High Court upheld the death sentence. CNA photo Dec. 22, 2015]

After the verdict was delivered, Chiu Mu-sen (邱木森), the husband of one of the victims Pan Pi-ch (潘碧珠), told reporters that he thought justice had been served.

Chiu, who had been married to Pan for more than 40 years, said he could now tell her that "a fair verdict had been handed down for her murder."

On the afternoon of May 21, 2014, Cheng launched a random knife attack on passengers on a Taipei Metro train traveling from Taipei's Longshan Temple Station to Jiangzicui Station across the river in New Taipei, killing four people and injuring 22 others.

Armed with three knives, he moved from carriage to carriage, stabbing and slashing passengers along the way. Some of the passengers were napping and never knew what happened while others tried to fend him off with umbrellas.

The killing spree came to a stop only when Cheng was subdued on the platform by Metro staff and police officers after the train arrived at Jiangzicui Station.

He told investigators that he had wanted to kill people since he was an elementary student and that he was tired of living.

[CNA photo May 21, 2014]

On March 6, 2015, a district court in New Taipei convicted him of multiple murder and attempted murder and gave him to four death sentences and prison terms ranging from five to eight years. The verdict was upheld by the High Court and now the Supreme Court.

When called to testify in the Supreme Court on April 7, Cheng said that although he knew he deserved the death penalty, he had tried to cooperate with his lawyers.

He apologized to the victims' families, saying "Sorry, I did something wrong."

Cheng then launched a tirade against conditions in Taiwan's correctional facilities, saying the Agency of Corrections was turning inmates into "human waste by forcing them to do labor intensive work that anyone with a low IQ could do" in prison factories.

The agency should change its name to "the Agency of Punishment," he said.

Cheng is one of 43 people on death row in Taiwan.

(By Paige Tsai, Jay Chen and Elizabeth Hsu)

●April 21, 2016: Nearly 9 out of 10 in Taiwan want to keep death penalty: poll
●Jan. 7, 2016: Court awards NT$60 million to victims of Taipei Metro attack
●Oct. 30, 2015: High court upholds death sentence against Taipei Metro attacker
●May 21, 2014: 4 dead, 21 injured in stabbing on Taipei metro

Taipei Metro at 20, now and then

[A black-and-white message mourning victims of the attack is shown across the metro system. CNA photo May 27, 2014]