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Cashbox Partyworld chairman acquitted in trial over fatal KTV fire

05/15/2024 06:35 PM
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CNA photo April 26, 2020
CNA photo April 26, 2020

Taipei, May 14 (CNA) The Taipei District Court ruled Wednesday that Cashbox Partyworld Co. Chairman Lien Tai-sheng (練台生) was not guilty of negligent homicide or other charges related to a fire in April 2020 that killed six people at a Cashbox outlet in Taipei.

In the same trial, contract maintenance foreman Wang Sheng-chieh (王聖傑) was found guilty and given a three-year sentence.

Also, Weng Pei-wen (翁珮雯) and Chang Hui-chun (張惠純), the manager and deputy manager of the karaoke club, and Huang Ssu-ming (黃思銘), an engineer who was in charge of the outlet's renovation, were given sentences of one to two years, suspended for four years.

Two managers of the club who were also indicted, Chen Ssu-hung (陳思宏) and Hsieh Yung-kuei (謝勇奎), were found not guilty of any charges against them.

Beyond the guilty verdicts and sentences, the district court imposed a fine of NT$300,000 (US$9,315) on Tee Kuang International Co., the Cashbox Partyworld subsidiary that operated the karaoke club, for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

After learning of the court ruling, the Taipei District Prosecutors Office said it will assess whether to file an appeal.

In October 2020, the office indicted Lien and the six others over the incident on charges of negligent homicide, negligence resulting in injury, and violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the Fire Services Act.

The court found that Lien, in his capacity as chairman of Cashbox Partyworld Co. and Tee Kuang International Co., followed regulations covering the installation and maintenance of fire safety equipment.

He was not in charge of fire safety issues based on the organization's different levels of responsibility, however, and therefore was not subject to criminal liability, the court found.

The case revolved a fire that had its origins in an elevator installation project at the outlet that began in February 2020.

The club had planned to suspend operations during the installation process but later opted to continue welcoming customers while repairs were going on to boost revenue.

The fire that broke out April 26 at the Linsen outlet was believed to have been caused by a faulty battery in an electric laser level that was left charging in a storage room on the fourth floor by Wang, prosecutors said.

The battery caught fire, triggering the blaze, the fire and smoke soon spread to other floors in the building through open fire safety doors between floors that were not kept closed because of a revised fire compartmentation plan, according to prosecutors.

The fire also spread through temporary elevator shafts, built to facilitate major renovations, prosecutors said.

Aside from the six people killed, dozens others were injured, and Tee Kuang International reached a NT$90.11 million civil settlement with 56 victims, including the families of the deceased on behalf of the company, according to court documents.

(By Lin Chang-shun and Evelyn Kao)


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