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Vietnamese murderer's prison term reduced due to sentencing error

12/11/2023 05:35 PM
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The Supreme Prosecutors Office building in Taipei. CNA file photo
The Supreme Prosecutors Office building in Taipei. CNA file photo

Taipei, Dec. 11 (CNA) A Vietnamese man convicted of murder has had his 18-year prison sentence reduced to 14 years after the prosecutor in the 2017 case noticed that the ruling did not comply with sentencing guidelines, the Supreme Prosecutors Office said Monday.

In a press release, the prosecutors office said the case involved a Vietnamese national, surnamed Vũ (武), who came to Taiwan as a migrant worker in 2013.

On March 15, 2015, the then-22-year-old Vũ and two friends became involved in an altercation with another group of Vietnamese at a Taoyuan restaurant, during which Vũ fatally slashed one of the other men with a machete.

In the criminal case that followed, Vũ was found guilty of murder and sentenced to an 18-year prison term in 2017. Including the time he served pre-sentencing, he has now been in jail for nearly nine years.

According to the statement, Weng Chien-kang (翁健剛), the prosecutor in the case, discovered earlier this year that Vũ's sentence exceeded the statutory maximum set out in the Criminal Code, and reported the error to the Supreme Prosecutors Office.

The error stemmed from the fact that under Article 271 of the Criminal Code, a person found guilty of murder can either be sentenced to death, to life imprisonment, or to a prison term of "not less than ten years."

However, Article 33 of the code -- which sets out five main types of criminal punishments, starting with death and life imprisonment -- has as its next most severe category sentences of "more than two months and less than 15 years."

In other words, in a murder case in which the sentence is not death or life imprisonment, and in which there are no aggravating factors, the maximum sentence should be 15 years.

Upon being informed of the mistake, the Supreme Prosecutors Office filed an extraordinary appeal at the Supreme Court in October, which recently voided the original ruling and re-sentenced Vũ to 14 years in prison.

Under the ruling, Vũ, whose prison term was originally set to end in March 2033, will be released in 2029.

(By Liu Shih-yi and Matthew Mazzetta)

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