Murder of 4-year-old girl stirs death penalty debate - Focus Taiwan

Murder of 4-year-old girl stirs death penalty debate

Taipei, March 28 (CNA) The brutal beheading of a 4-year-old girl in an apparent random attack in Taipei on Monday has renewed debate over the death penalty, which is still carried out in Taiwan, with advocates asking opponents if they still favored abolishing it.

A 33-year-old man has been detained in connection with the gruesome killing of the girl as she and her mother were on their way to a subway station in Neihu District in northern Taipei late Monday morning.

The suspect grabbed the child from behind and decapitated her with a cleaver. The girl died on the spot, according to police.

The tragedy sparked a heated debate in the Internet community, with Lin Hsin-yi (林欣怡), the executive director of the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty, saying that she was "very, very, very sad" about the tragedy on a Facebook post.

She wrote that she really wanted to find a solution on how to stop such incidents.

Some netizens argued, however, that people found guilty of "felony murder" should be directly executed and others said those found guilty of killing others should pay for what they have done.

Kuomintang Legislator Wang Yu-min (王育敏) said the attack was simply unacceptable, and she called for public support for her proposal that would stipulate automatic death penalties, or life sentences under specific circumstances, for people who murder children under the age of 12.

Asked whether the incident would affect his support for abolishing the death penalty, New Power Party Legislator Freddy Lim (林昶佐) said he has pushed for reforms of the country's penal system, which includes protecting the rights of children and the families of victims.

Lin, who has served as the head of Amnesty International's Taiwan branch, said it was time for Taiwan to make improvements in these areas to avoid the repetition of similar incidents in the future.

The newly elected chairwoman of the KMT, Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), questioned those opposed to capital punishment, asking "Are you still in favor of abolishing the death penalty?" while expressing her support for the bill proposed by Wang.

President-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) expressed her sadness over the brutal killing through Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesman Wang Min-sheng (王閔生).

Tsai said the country should stem these types of tragic crimes by strengthening education, improving the economy and mental health for individuals and striving to maintain social order, according to Wang.

Monday's incident was the third case of a random child murder in Taiwan in the last five years.

In December 2012, a 29-year-old unemployed man named Tseng Wen-chin (曾文欽) murdered a 10-year-old boy in Tainan and allegedly said he killed him because he wanted to be imprisoned. Tseng was given a life sentence by the Tainan District Court the next year.

Tseng also reportedly suggested that he would not receive a death sentence because he only killed one person, a comment that drew a public outcry and sparked a debate over the death penalty at that time.

In June 2015, an 8-year-old girl died of multiple organ failure after she had her throat slit by 29-year-old Kung Chung-an (龔重安), who claimed to be looking for a random target at her school in Beitou District in Taipei.

The killer said he murdered the girl because prisoners get better food than he was getting in his daily life. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, and the case also reinforced support for the death penalty and led people to question those who oppose it.

(By Lu Hsin-hui, Ku Chuan, Justin Su, Chen Chun-hua and Evelyn Kao)


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