Sat, Mar 05, 2011 - Page 1 News List

MOJ executes five death-row inmates

FORTY REMAIN:Grilled by lawmakers on the possibility of executions earlier in the day, the minister said that he had at that point not signed any execution orders

By Rich Chang, Shih Hsiu-chuan and Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff Reporters

Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu, right, stands next to Premier Wu Den-yih, left, yesterday morning during a question-and-answer session in the legislature.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

Five convicts on death row were executed yesterday, the Ministry of Justice announced yesterday evening.

Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) signed documents yesterday morning authorizing the executions, Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Shou-huang (陳守煌) told a press conference last night.

Chen said Kuan Chung-yan (管鍾演) and Chung Teh-chu (鐘德樹) were executed in Taipei Prison. Wang Chih-huang (王志煌) was executed in Greater Taichung Prison, while Wang Kuo-hua (王國華) and Chuang Tien-chu (莊天祝) were executed in Greater Kaohsiung Prison.

Kuan was convicted of robbery and seven murders; Chung threw a Molotov cocktail into a private school in Taoyuan County and started a fire that killed three and injured 15; Wang Chih-huang was convicted of killing two drug dealers, who were shot in the head and left on the side of a highway in Taichung County with their pants unzipped.

Wang Kuo-hua was convicted of robbery and sexually assaulting several young women after meeting them online. He also killed a young woman by tying a plastic bag over her head and throwing her into a river. Chuang was sentenced to death for murdering two prostitutes and then two women after breaking into their homes in Kaohsiung City in 2002 and 2004.

The ministry said that Wang Kuo-hua, Chuang and Kuan signed documents donating their organs, so their bodies were taken to a hospital for their organs to be harvested immediately after the execution.

Kaohsiung Prison said Wang Kuo-hua and Chuang were calm when they were told about the execution order and taken to the execution ground.

After yesterday’s executions, 40 convicts remain on death row, according to the ministry.

The executions came after -local daily papers yesterday reported that the ministry was on the verge of ordering the executions of death row inmates. The Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) reported that up to five convicts could be put to death, while the Chinese-language United Daily News reported that the ministry’s task force on executions met to finalize the list of those to be executed and forwarded at least two execution orders to Tseng for his signature.

When grilled by lawmakers on the matter at the legislature earlier yesterday, Tseng declined to reveal any information.

“Could you please not sign executions today? You are tied up in the question-and-answer session all day today. Wait until tomorrow and then you will have ten more hours to think about this,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) said.

Tseng refused to promise not to order any executions, but added that he hadn’t signed any orders at that point.

Pressed by a follow-up question as to whether he would sign execution orders after the session, Tseng said “anything is possible.”

Late last night, Tseng apologized for being economical with the truth, citing the need for secrecy in the matter of executions.

Yesterday’s executions came less than a year after the ministry resumed the enforcement of capital punishment verdicts last April, when four death row inmates were executed, ending an unofficial moratorium on capital punishment that had been in place since 2005.

Soon after the ministry -announced the executions yesterday, members of the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (TAEDP) and other human rights activists staged a silent protest outside the ministry building. Holding up two white banners with black characters and wearing surgical masks, the anti-death penalty activists lit five candles in memory of the five executed convicts.

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