Relatives of three people killed in a highway accident in 2010 yesterday slammed the Taichung High Court for overturning a manslaughter conviction for the truck driver at the center of the incident.
Yang Wen-kuang (楊文光), whose wife was killed and who sustained injuries himself, said he was outraged at the latest ruling, which was handed down on Tuesday, and vowed to appeal.
“The judge only accepted evidence that favored the truck driver. If this kind of judicial decision becomes commonplace, then it is giving gravel trucks in Taiwan carte blanche to break the law and kill people at will,” Yang said.
The gravel truck, driven by a man surnamed Cheng (鄭), blew its front left tire on Highway No. 6 in Nantou County in February 2010.
Cheng lost control of the truck, and it sideswiped a nearby car, hurtled across the highway median strip and collided head-on with an SUV carrying seven passengers. Three people were killed in the accident, and five others, including Yang, sustained various injuries.
In the first ruling, Cheng was found guilty of manslaughter due to negligence and given an 18-month jail term. A second court ruling upheld that sentence. Cheng appealed both decisions.
In the latest ruling, the judge said the truck’s tires met legal requirements of a tread depth of 1.6mm, adding that drivers do not know when a tire might blow out.
The ruling rejected an appraisal report by an automotive testing center that said the front tires had an excessive difference in tread depth, which was likely a factor in the tire blowout.
It also cited the driver’s testimony that he had checked the tire pressure before departure.
Huang Ting-chin (黃鼎鈞), a lawyer familiar with traffic accident cases, said that authenticated appraisal reports are usually taken into account when making a judgement.
“The judge chose to reject the report by saying it lacked scientific basis, and took up his own interpretation on this case. It is no wonder the victims cannot accept this decision,” Huang said.
“The other families also cannot accept the not guilty verdict,” Yang said. “How come the driver gets no punishment, no jail time?”
“This is an outrageous decision by an extremely biased judge. It is like stabbing a knife into the victims once again, and we are left to bleed. We want justice, and we will appeal this ruling,” Yang said.
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