Wed, Dec 05, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Death penalty changes proposed

HARSH TIMES:Lawmakers have tabled proposals to make the murder of children and the elderly punishable by death to counteract the rising frequency of the crimes

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Following the recent murder of an 10-year-old boy by a man who allegedly killed him because he wanted to be imprisoned, lawmakers yesterday proposed amendments to the Criminal Code, including making the murder of children and the elderly punishable by death or life in prison, in a bid to deter such crimes.

The boy, surnamed Fang (方), was found dead with his throat cut at a children’s recreation center in Greater Tainan on Saturday.

Within 10 hours of the incident being reported, the police had tracked down a suspect, Tseng Wen-chin (曾文欽), a 29-year-old man who reportedly had been unemployed for a long time and heavily indebted.

Tseng said he killed the boy so that he could be sent to prison and that he had planned to kill more people had he not been arrested.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hsu Hsin-ying (徐欣瑩) put forward an amendment to the Criminal Code to equate the murder of children under the age of 12 and of adults above 65 with the murder of a family member in an offender’s direct line of descent, which is punishable by death or a life sentence.

Under Hsu’s amendment, the length of sentences to be imposed on offenders convicted of injuring or kidnapping a child under 12 years old or an adult above 65 would be increased by up to 50 percent.

Social attitudes have deteriorated to the point where “harsh punishment is needed as deterrent,” Hsu said, citing statistics showing that the total number of crimes against children and the elderly increased to 1,595 and 12,393 respectively last year from 100 and 8,701 in 2001.

KMT Legislator Lu Yu-ling (呂玉玲) proposed another amendment to the Criminal Code which suggested that a murderer be sentenced to death or life in prison for killing a child under the age of 14, which she said was to some extent modeled after a sex crime law in the US known as “Jessica’s Law” designed to track sex offenders more stringently.

Separately, the legislature yesterday approved an amendment to the Air Pollution Control Act (空氣污染防制法) that will allow the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) to make exemptions when fining drivers who leave their cars idling for more than three minutes.

The EPA has said that it will exempt fines in certain cases, including on days when a maximum temperature of more than 30oC is forecast or when it is raining heavily.

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