The Supreme Court yesterday upheld the death sentence for Cheng Chieh (鄭捷), who was convicted of stabbing four people to death and injuring 22 in a May 21, 2014, attack in the Taipei MRT rail system.
The verdict is final and cannot be appealed.
The court’s ruling said it upheld the death penalty because there was clear evidence that the defendant had committed an act defined as one of the most severe crimes by the UN’s International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The New Taipei City District Court on March 6 last year convicted Cheng of four counts of murder and 22 counts of attempted manslaughter, handing down the death sentence for each murder charge and prison sentences ranging from five to eight years for a total of 144 years on the manslaughter charges.
It also ordered him to pay NT$30.91 million (US$956,078) in compensation to his victims, as well as NT$8.55 million to the families of the four dead.
The Taiwan High Court in October last year upheld the convictions, but ordered Cheng to pay NT$61.39 million in compensation to his victims and the relatives of those slain.
Cheng’s defense appealed that verdict to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court said the four death sentences were “commensurate with the crimes committed,” adding that the rulings handed down by the courts must be based on the laws of the nation, which still include capital punishment.
The justices also said that Cheng was of sound mind and in control of his actions at the time of the attack, and there was no indication of a psychiatric disorder or loss of mental faculties.
They said that even if an appraisal by experts indicated the defendant had a minor psychological disturbance, it still would not affect their decision.
Liang Chia-ying (梁家贏), one of Cheng’s defense lawyers, said the verdict was regrettable.
“The courts did not fully investigate Cheng’s motives, nor did they attempt to determine if his mental state was affected by illness,” Liang said.
Cheng is currently the 43rd death row inmate.
Minister of Justice Luo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) denied a media report that top judiciary officials had met in the afternoon to determine when to execute Cheng.
“We have not received the official documents of the judgment, and we did not discuss this issue. We do not have a schedule for the execution,” she said.
The father of Chang Cheng-han (張正翰), one of the four slain, said that he hopes the execution can be carried out soon.
“The ruling provides justice for society. The murderer must pay with his life for his crimes,” he said. “We still see random killings in our society. The sooner Cheng Chieh is executed, the sooner it will serve as a warning to people and prevent such killings from happening again.”
Chiu Mu-sen (邱木森), husband of Pan Pi-chu (潘碧珠), another slain victim, said he thought justice had been served.
Chiu, who had been married to Pan for more than 40 years, said “a fair verdict had been handed down for her murder.”
Additional reporting by CNA