The murder of a 10-year-old boy whose throat was slit in a games arcade in Greater Tainan over the weekend has reignited a debate over the death penalty after the suspect reportedly said he would get away with a life sentence.
Public anger mounted after 29-year-old suspect Tseng Wen-chin (曾文欽) was quoted in the media as saying he would get a life sentence at most “even if he were to kill two or three people” and that he wanted to go to jail to avoid having to worry about living expenses.
Protesters, who were outraged by reports the suspect said he “targeted kids because they were less likely to fight back,” gathered outside the Ministry of Justice yesterday to demand the execution of the nation’s death-row inmates.
There are currently 61 inmates on death row, caught in limbo partly because of a lengthy legal process and partly by a virtual moratorium on executions. The longest-serving of them has been waiting on death row for 25 years.
“We demand that the government abide by the law and enforce capital punishment to maintain law and order in our society. We oppose abolishing the death penalty,” said Angela Wang (王薇君), head of a child welfare promotion association.
As the government has not carried out any executions in almost two years, some criminals are getting the impression that they can avoid the death sentence even if they commit murder, Wang said.
Taiwan reserves the death penalty for serious crimes, including aggravated murder, kidnapping and robbery, but politicians are divided about whether to maintain it.
A lingering debate on abolishing the death penalty was renewed recently, particularly after judicial and military authorities came under fire over the execution of a soldier wrongly convicted of murdering a child.
Chiang Kuo-ching (江國慶), a 21-year-old serviceman executed in 1997, had insisted he was innocent and that he was coerced by a group of officers into confessing.