A prisoner sentenced to death committed suicide yesterday and is thought to have been unable to bear the pain of waiting for the execution.
"Huang Chih-hsien (
Huang had attempted to take his own life twice earlier this month.
Unsuccessful at first
Cheng said that on Jan. 9 Huang's life was saved through surgery after he was found to have swallowed three batteries.
On Jan. 19, Huang was discovered to have swallowed parts of a spigot and was sent to receive treatment at a hospital.
Cheng added that Huang had remained in hospital since Jan.19, but was found dead early yesterday morning.
"Doctors said his death resulted from septicemia, but [confirming] the cause of death will require an autopsy," Cheng added.
"We suspect Huang might have swallowed another hard object before he died," he said.
Cheng said the prison had made an effort to prevent Huang from killing himself.
Hualien prison last year told local reporters that Huang had converted to Buddhism in jail and recited sutras every day.
He often expressed his remorse for the crimes he committed, they said.
However, the delayed execution made him depressed recently, the prison said yesterday.
Huang was sentenced to death in December 2004 for the murders of three people in Peinan Township (卑南), Taitung County.
In June 2002, Huang stabbed his girlfriend to death with a knife after a quarrel.
He then changed out of his bloody clothes into a new outfit and walked 200m to the home of his ex-girlfriend, where he killed both her and her new boyfriend.
The murders shocked the quiet region.
Police swiftly arrested Huang, who had fled to the mountains in an attempt to hide.
Huang's execution was delayed because the Ministry of Justice has tried to carry out as few executions as possible, given that it has been unable to fulfill its goal of abolishing the death penalty.
Of the total of 17 prisoners sentenced to death last year, three were executed.
The ministry either files extraordinary appeals to the Supreme Court for prisoners sentenced to death to keep them alive, or delays their executions.
The ministry is also considering introducing a bill that would keep criminals who are sentenced to death sentence under observation in jail for two years, with those who express full remorse for their crimes being eligible for life imprisonment.