A Pingtung man convicted of being an accessory in the murder of his sister-in-law and sabotaging the Southern Link railway in 2006 was sentenced to life in prison by the High Court’s Kaohsiung branch in a retrial yesterday.
Lee Tai-an (李泰安) can appeal the case to the Supreme Court.
In Lee’s first and second trials, he was sentenced to life imprisonment and 18 years in prison by the Pingtung District Court and the High Court’s Kaohsiung branch respectively. In 2010, the High Court’s Kaohsiung branch reduced his sentence to 13 years on the grounds that his brother, Lee Shuang-chuan (李雙全), was the primary perpetrator, while he was an accessory.
The incident occurred on March 17, 2006, when an express train traveling from Taitung to Kaohsiung derailed in Pingtung County. Among the passengers were Lee Shuang-chuan — a Taiwan Railways Administration employee — and his Vietnamese wife, Chen Hong-chen (陳氏紅琛).
Chen died in hospital after the derailment, but prosecutors became suspicious when they discovered Lee Shuang-chuan had taken out a NT$20 million (US$675,000) life insurance policy on his wife, which covered accidental death, a few days prior to the derailment.
Yesterday’s ruling said Lee Tai-an, driven by greed, accepted Lee Shuang-chuan’s invitation to act as his accomplice by damaging railway infrastructure that endangered passengers’ safety.
Lee Tai-an’s act was unforgivable and he has shown no remorse, the ruling said.
Wu Han-cheng (吳漢成), Lee Tai-an’s defense counsel, said his client would lodge an appeal.