Sat, Mar 21, 2015 - Page 3 News List

High Court ruling on murder case sparks outrage

By Yang Cheng-chun and Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A Taiwan High Court ruling upholding the life sentence for a convicted murderer drew public criticism yesterday, as the court said the cruelty of the crime was relatively light compared with the killings of Malaysian police by members of the Royal Army of Sulu in a series of fatal conflicts in 2013.

According to the ruling by the Taichung branch of the High Court, Huang Wen-ching (黃文進), the married owner of a private investigation agency, had relations with the victim, a 26-year-old student surnamed Chen (陳). After blackmailing and getting NT$5 million (US$158,500) from Chen, Huang drugged her and used gas to suffocate her to death before burying her body beside a river in Taichung’s Wujih District (烏日).

The Taichung District Court handed out the first ruling in the case in October last year, in which it described the commission of the murder as “light-handed,” saying Chen “might not have experienced much fear and pain” before death. It thereby sentenced Huang to life imprisonment instead of the death sentence despite acknowledging the enormity of the crime.

In the second ruling yesterday, the High Court upheld the district court’s verdict, saying Huang’s crime was not a “most serious offense,” compared “with the killings of Malaysian police by members of the Royal Army of Sulu in 2013 [in which the victims were] beheaded, mutilated and disemboweled.”

Legal experts criticized the ruling yesterday, saying there is no comparison between a domestic homicide and executions by an international terrorist cell.

The court might as well compare them to killings by the Islamic State to spare criminals the death sentence, they said.

Alliance Against the Abolishment of Capital Punishment convener Chen Cheng-yu (陳正育) also railed against the ruling, saying there are too many cases in which judges are far too lenient with murderers, and those judges should be “re-educated” as they are detached from the real world.

Garden of Hope Foundation deputy chief executive Wang Yueh-hao (王玥好) said the court had made an inappropriate reference to the cruel killings by members of Royal Army of Sulu, adding that the judges should consider the victim’s families and friends, rather than making a crime appear lesser by comparing it with extreme cases.

Taichung High Court Chief Judge Chiang His-lin (江錫麟) said the judges drew up the comparison mainly to state their view that the murder of Chen was relatively “light” in scope.

The ruling can be appealed.

Additional reporting by Chen Ping-hung and Wang Chun-chung

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