Sun, Aug 27, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Letters: Death penalty shamed again

Your article ("DNA test suggests man's innocence," Aug. 10, page 1) once again brought to light the troubling reality behind Taiwan's system of capital punishment.

In the case of Lu Chin-kai (呂金鎧), who has served 12 years of a prison sentence, the article said that recent DNA evidence proved that Lu was not responsible for raping a young victim. Originally given the death penalty for his part in the murder and rape of the woman, Lu had his sentence commuted to 20 years in prison after his fourth appeal to the Taiwan High Court (in that appeal, murder charges were quashed). Throughout his appeals, Lu held that he was wrongly convicted after being tortured into confessing.

This must give pause to death penalty supporters.

Despite the most noble calls for public safety, capital punishment simply does not work: In addition to statistical evidence showing capital punishment does not influence crime rates, executions have also resulted in the murder of innocent people -- often those without adequate representation.

Given this recent case and the many cases before it, Taiwan should adopt an immediate moratorium on the death penalty. It is a cruel and degrading punishment.

The Lu case will hopefully remind Taiwanese that this irrevocable punishment threatens both the guilty and the innocent.

Jesse Heatley

Executive board member

Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty

Harvard University

Cambridge, Massachusetts

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