Death sentences that have been handed to people in cases in which no further appeals are possible ought to be enforced, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday, adding that he “never protects bad guys.”
The premier made the remarks during an interpellation when Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Shen Chih-hwei (沈智慧) asked Su whether he would execute any of the 40 inmates on death row by the end of this year.
“Since the death penalty is stipulated in the law, it should be enforced where necessary. Even the two covenants [the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights] say that the death penalty may be enforced in cases where it is unavoidable,” Su said.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
However, Shen said that since he took office more than eight months ago, not one death row inmate has been executed.
Su replied that the decision of whether to execute convicts lies with Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥).
Tsai said that the government’s position on the death penalty is to gradually abolish it, and the ministry would carefully review each case when deliberating whether to enforce the death penalty.
Tsai’s response drew criticism from Shen, who said that the Democratic Progressive Party administration has been ambivalent on the matter and is “wasting taxpayers’ money feeding death row inmates” and “protecting bad guys instead of good guys.”
In response, Su said: “I never protect bad guys, nor have I given any orders to stop the execution of death row inmates.”
Shen then cited a driving under the influence (DUI) case in Taichung last year that involved a repeat offender who had been diagnosed with stage-four cancer.
Even though he killed two people while driving drunk, he would not receive a death sentence, Shen said.
She asked Su whether his remark that “drunk driving equals intentional murder” and that the government has “zero tolerance” for drunk driving still stands.
Su said that zero tolerance against drunk driving has always been his stance, adding that the Cabinet submitted proposals stiffen penalties for DUI in the Criminal Code and the Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act (道路交通管理處罰條例), which were passed by the Legislative Yuan.
However, Shen said the strictest punishment a repeat DUI offender can receive under those amendments is life imprisonment.
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