Thu, May 01, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Anti-death penalty activists condemn executions

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Representatives from several groups protest in front of the Ministry of Justice in Taipei on Tuesday against the execution of five death-row inmates earlier in the day.

Photo: CNA

Anti-death penalty activists yesterday criticized the government for the execution of five death-row inmates on Tuesday, and accused President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of using the executions to divert attention from political controversies.

The activists said some of the convictions were “questionable.”

Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty executive director Lin Hsin-yi (林欣怡) released a statement late on Tuesday night, criticizing the government for executing inmates whose convictions were “questionable,” and accusing the government of trying to draw public attention away from recent events such as the violent crackdown on demonstrators occupying Taipei’s major thoroughfares, the disputes over the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and protests against the cross-strait service trade agreement.

“Among the five executed, the sentencing of brothers Tu Ming-lang (杜明郎) and Tu Ming-hsiung (杜明雄), who were accused of murder in China, remains questionable, especially considering that they were at one point declared not guilty,” Lin said

“The Taiwan Association for Innocence [TAFI] was still looking into their case before they were executed in Tainan Prison,” he added.

Another “questionable case” was that of Liu Yen-kuo (劉炎國), who was convicted of killing a police officer and a woman, Lin said.

Despite a lack of evidence to prove that that Liu had killed the woman, and the fact that the woman’s family believed that Liu had not killed her, the court remained convinced that he had killed both victims, Lin said.

“After the Tu brothers were accused of homicide in China, the court made a ruling based mostly on interrogations, testimonies and evidence provided by the Chinese police. The brothers were not allowed to ask questions in their own defense during their trial,” TAFI executive director Lo Shih-hsiang (羅士翔) said.

“Despite their once having been found not guilty, despite the questions in the ruling and despite their having continued to insist on their innocence after they were sentenced to death, they were still executed,” he said.

Lo said that based on his experience working with many inmates, he believes that many verdicts are still questionable, but the questions are not properly addressed.

“I think it is important to be especially cautious when it comes to the death sentence because it is not reversible,” Lo said.

“TAFI urges the government to suspend all executions before there is a way to make sure that none of the inmates are wrongfully executed,” he said.

Liu’s attorney, Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智), said that he was saddened to hear about the executions, especially since his birthday was Tuesday.

In a post on Facebook, Chiu wrote that he had met with Liu in the Taichung Detention Center on Tuesday afternoon to check with him on the details for filing a request for extraordinary appeal with the attorney general that day.

“After the meeting, we walked through the corridor together and he told me he was sorry that he could not prepare a birthday present for me. I laughed and told him not to worry and that there is always next time,” Chiu said.

“But in the evening I learned that he was executed, and there is no next time,” the lawyer said.

“I filed the request for extraordinary appeal in the afternoon, but it was turned down by the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office within an hour, and Liu was executed in the evening,” Chiu said. “I do not see a cautious procedure in the judicial system to deal with someone’s life and death.”

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