The New Taipei City District Court collegiate bench yesterday found MRT killer Cheng Chieh (鄭捷) guilty on four counts of murder and 22 counts of attempted manslaughter, handing down four death sentences and prison sentences ranging from five to eight years, amounting to a total jail term of 144 years.
Cheng’s citizen’s rights have also been revoked for life.
The ruling may be appealed, the court said.
Cheng, then a student of Tunghai University, attacked passengers on Taipei’s MRT metro rail system on May 21 last year on the Bannan Line between Longshan Temple Station and Jiangzicui Station. He killed Hsieh Ching-yun (解青雲), Chang Cheng-han (張正翰), Lee Tsui-yun (李翠雲) and Pan Pi-chu (潘碧珠), and injured 22 others.
Cheng had initially said that he was tired of life, but was afraid of committing suicide, so he committed multiple counts of murder so that he would be assured of capital punishment.
The court found that Cheng did not exhibit signs of psychotic abnormalities or mental deficiencies at the time of his actions.
Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times
Central Police University professor Shen Sheng-ang (沈勝昂) said the possibility of Cheng being rehabilitated was unlikely, adding that “Cheng’s situation is akin to that of a terminal-stage cancer patient.”
Cheng’s initial aloofness and silence, as well as his failure to apologize to the victims’ families, saw an abrupt turn on Feb. 10, when he broke his silence to say he would undergo psychiatric consultation and would not resort to violence and murder again if given the chance for parole.
According to sources, Cheng’s sudden change in attitude was due to his belief that he could accept a life sentence and perhaps make a living by starting a small business if he were to be released on parole.
One source quoted Cheng saying to his friends that “[If I] win [the case], we’ll have the chance of living our lives as we like; [if I] lose, we’ll meet in another life as heroes.”
Cheng’s lawyers sought to rationalize his attitude after the killings by saying that his thinking was like that of a teenager, believing that if he showed any regret, he would lose face.
That is why he seemed aloof, although he knew what he did was wrong, they said.
“We understand that the court is under great pressure from the media, but trying to demonize the defendant will not help society,” Cheng’s lawyers said in a statement.
His lawyers also criticized the presiding judges, saying that the court violated their client’s rights by forcing him to attend court to hear the ruling, as he was not by law mandated to be present.
“By forcing our client to appear at court simply for maximum media effect, the judges have lost focus and have endangered the equality and uniformity of the law, creating an exception that might be followed in future cases,” the lawyers said.
Meanwhile, family members of the victims said that the ruling was in accordance with the public’s expectations, but they could not condone the comments from Cheng’s lawyers.
Lee’s brother Lee Jui-chang (李瑞昌) said he was glad the New Taipei City District Court judges were just, and that he hoped judges in the appellate courts would continue to uphold the ruling.
The reasons cited by the lawyers for the murders sought to deny Cheng’s responsibility in the matter, Lee Jui-chang said, adding that he hoped the day for the final ruling on Cheng’s capital punishment could be expedited.
Additional reporting by CNA
INVASION: Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said: ‘A Taiwan emergency is a Japanese emergency, and therefore an emergency for the Japan-US alliance’ Japan and the US could not stand by if China attacked Taiwan, and Beijing needs to understand this, former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said yesterday. Speaking virtually to a forum organized by Taiwanese think tank the Institute for National Policy Research, Abe said that the Senkaku Islands — known as the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) in Taiwan — the Sakishima Islands and Yonaguni Island are only about 100km from Taiwan. An invasion of Taiwan would be a grave danger to Japan, he said. “A Taiwan emergency is a Japanese emergency, and therefore an emergency for the Japan-US alliance. People in Beijing, [Chinese] President
‘BADGE OF HONOR’: Lithuanian lawmaker Dovile Sakaliene, who is on China’s travel ban list, said delegation members joked that they would be joining her on it soon A delegation led by the chairman of the Lithuanian Parliamentary Group for Relations with Taiwan yesterday arrived in Taipei to participate in a conference on democracy later this week. The group, led by Matas Maldeikis, a Lithuanian lawmaker and an outspoken critic of China, touched down at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 6:18am yesterday. Maldeikis said at the airport that he expected the trip to enhance understanding between Taiwan and Lithuania after cooperation between the two sides took a big step forward this past year. “This trip will be another step in understanding each other because we are dealing with the same challenges,”
GET A BOOST: After considering the potential for local outbreaks amid an increase in cases abroad, a committee recommended adolescents receive their second shots The level 2 COVID-19 alert is to be extended until Dec. 13, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced yesterday, as it advised people in six high-risk groups to receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot. It also recommended that adolescents aged 12 to 17 who had a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine receive a second shot. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the nationwide level 2 alert would remain in place for two more weeks from today. Chen said that during New Year’s events eating and drinking might be allowed in designated areas, while
‘HISTORIC’: The passage of the resolution by both chambers of the French parliament shows their concrete support for Taiwan’s global participation, the foreign ministry said The government yesterday thanked the French National Assembly for adopting a resolution on Monday in support of Taiwan’s international participation, following a similar resolution passed by the French Senate in May. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs praised the resolution’s passage as “historic” and as demonstrating the concrete support of both chambers of the French parliament for Taiwan’s participation in international affairs. Taiwan and France have shared a long-standing partnership characterized by a high level of trust, and based on the shared values of democracy, freedom and human rights, the ministry said. Passed on Monday in a 39-2 vote with three abstentions, the non-legally