An elderly man doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire in front of the Presidential Office early yesterday to protest what he called “judicial injustice.”
The 71-year-old man, surnamed Tseng (曾), pulled his car up to the west end of the Presidential Office plaza in Taipei at 6:58am and set himself alight as soon as he stepped out of the vehicle, Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) said.
The police, who found about 13 liters of gasoline in two containers in Tseng’s car, believe he doused himself with gasoline before getting out of the car.
Military police officers on duty outside the Presidential Office extinguished the fire that had engulfed Tseng and rushed him to the nearby National Taiwan University Hospital.
According to the hospital, Tseng sustained third-degree burns over about 60 percent of his body and is in critical condition.
Four boxes of petitions and four banners with protest slogans were found in his car by investigators and pointed to a possible motive behind Tseng’s action.
The petitions addressed his dissatisfaction with the judicial system and one of the banners read: “Corrupt judicial members are scarier than gangsters,” police said.
Investigators said Tseng also posted on his Facebook profile on Sept. 16: “If [sacrificing] my life can make Taiwan’s people stand up and bring down these corrupt judicial groups, who are more barbaric than gangsters or bandits, then of course I’m willing [to make the sacrifice].”
Tseng’s Facebook page was also found to contain statements expressing his discontent with the judiciary and more than 700 pictures of responses from government he had received after reporting cases to the judicial system.
Tseng’s neighbors in Greater Kaohsiung told investigators that he had been upset by real-estate disputes and had pleaded for help from government agencies, but to no avail.
Tseng’s last update on the social networking Web site on Sept. 19 was a picture of a reply from the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office and a message that said the unjust judicial system was shattering human rights.