Sun, Feb 09, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Liu Hsia dies after an alleged assault

UNDER INVESTIGATION Prosecutors have yet to decide whether to charge an Indonesian caregiver whose assault is thought to have resulted in the activist's fatal heart attack

By Tsai Ting-I  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Presidential advisor Liu Hsia (劉俠) died in hospital yesterday, after allegedly being attacked by her Indonesian caregiver on Friday morning.

Liu had been in hospital for observation following the incident.

The 61-year-old wheelchair-bound Liu, who was also a well-known writer and advocate of the rights of the underprivileged, died of atrial flutter in the Tri-Service General Hospital at 4am.

"The [alleged beating] incident put too heavy a burden on her heart," said Chang De-ming (張德明), a doctor at the hospital.

Liu's family has decided not to file a lawsuit against the Indonesian caregiver, but the Taipei prosecutors' office has started an investigation of the case to see whether charges should be brought.

Liu's family decided to donate her body for medical research as Liu had wished.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday visited the hospital to deliver his condolences to Liu's family, following his first visit to Liu Friday night, in which he asked the hospital to look after her.

The Indonesian caregiver, identified only by the name Vinarsih, is suspected of suffering from conversion disorder, a psychological affliction caused by severe emotional stress, which makes sufferers to be unable to distinguish between reality and imagination, according to a report from the Mackay Memorial Hospital (馬偕醫院), where Vinarsih took a medical test Friday.

Liu's mother said that Liu had been able to tell her that she had awoken to find herself being dragged from her bed by the caregiver Friday.

According to Taipei County police officials, Vinarsih told the police that she had dreamed of Liu's dead father three times, who told her to help Liu because there was an earthquake. Vinarsih said she tried to wake Liu and carry her to a safer place, but was adamant that she did not beat Liu.

After being told that Liu had died, Vinarsih expressed regret.

Prosecutors yesterday took Vinarsih to Liu's house for further investigation.

Liu Chun-lin (呂俊霖), a prosecutor from the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office, said that they had found some injuries on Liu's body, but they needed more evidence before being able to say those injuries were caused by Vinarsih.

Liu's younger brother, Liu Kan (劉侃), yesterday said that the government should set up a mechanism to guarantee the quality of foreign caregivers.

"My sister's death would be worthwhile if the government could set up a safety mechanism to ensure that we are not hiring a wolf, a tiger or a murderer," Liu said in the news conference held at the hospital yesterday morning.

Liu suffered from a rare disease called atrophic arthritis, which is related to rheumatoid arthritis.

The malady had destroyed the function of almost 90 percent of her joints. Despite being forced to lie down most of the time and to use a wheelchair to get around, Liu had written more than 1,000 inspirational short stories and articles under her pen name Xing Lin Tzu (杏林子).

Surprised by Liu's death, friends and colleagues said that her spirit would be always in their hearts and minds.

"Despite her weak physical condition, her psychological condition was always tough. She was a model for this society," said Sun Yuieh (孫越), a close friend of Liu's.

The Council of Labor Affairs yesterday said that Vinarsih would be repatriated as she had violated regulations by attacking her employer.

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