Wed, Nov 26, 2003 - Page 2 News List

`Snakehead' gets death sentence for drowning women

AP , TAIPEI

A court sentenced a human smuggler to death and another to life in prison yesterday for drowning six Chinese women dumped into the sea while being chased by the coast guard.

The defendants were accused of pushing a total of 20 Chinese women into the Taiwan Strait off Miaoli County on the west coast. Six women died while the others were rescued by the coast guard.

The Miaoli District Court condemned human smuggler Wang Chung-hsing (王中興) to death and Ko Ching-sung (柯清松) to life in prison.

"Ko received a lighter sentence because he had shown remorse," presiding judge Chen Hung-pin said.

The court also sentenced two crew members of another ship involved in the smuggling case.

Yeh Tien-sheng (葉天勝) was sentenced to three years in prison and fined NT$300,000. Tseng Chiung-ming (曾炯明) received a two-year prison sentence and was ordered to pay NT$200,000, the court said.

Human smugglers, or "snakeheads," often don't require the women to pay up front for their voyage across the 160km-wide Taiwan Strait, officials said.

When the women arrive in Taiwan, they are often forced to stay in brothels or bars, where they must work until they pay back the money they owe to the snakeheads, officials said.

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