Tuesday’s execution of Cheng Chieh (鄭捷), who was convicted of killing four people and injuring 22 on an MRT train in Taipei in 2014, breached procedural justice, anti-death penalty advocates said yesterday, adding that the “swift” execution of the sentence denied Cheng the opportunity to launch an extraordinary appeal.
“We can not allow the government to selectively choose whether there is a need for procedural justice, because that could create a precedent for the government making decisions based on how ‘iron-clad’ the public feels evidence of the crime is,” Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty executive director Lin Hsin-yi (林欣怡) said, adding that there were grounds for Cheng to possibly make an “extraordinary appeal,” such as a lack of access to a lawyer during the early stages of the investigation.
“In the past, as soon as it was determined that the death sentence would be carried out, there would always be some time for the defendant’s lawyers to discuss and prepare for ‘extraordinary relief’ procedures such as an ‘extraordinary appeal’ or interpretation of the Constitution, because these are more difficult to bring,” Lin said. “Cheng was not even allowed 30 days before the sentence was carried out, even less than what applies in normal civil cases.”
The lack of opportunity to seek extraordinary relief breached provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which has the force of domestic law, she said, while criticizing comments by minister of justice-designate Chiu Tai-san (邱太三), who said that he would follow procedure when making decisions over executions after taking office.
Minister of Justice Luo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) failed to implement promises to review death-row cases for possible injustices, Lin said, while calling for additional review over whether death-row inmates had received procedural justice.
The government should conduct a thorough review of ways to improve the social safety net to prevent random killings, she added.
Film director Cheng Yu-chien (鄭有傑) said on Facebook that, many people — including himself — could not understand why Cheng Chieh said at the time of his arrest that he felt “comfortable and at ease” after the killing, “but judging from the comments left by a lot of people after reports of Cheng Chieh’s execution, I suppose they feel the same way as Cheng Chieh did at the time.”
Another film director, Yang Ya-che (楊雅?), condemned the execution and media coverage of it.
Yang said on Facebook that executions used to be announced after being carried out, but now the government is releasing the news almost immediately.
“Why does it not just broadcast the execution live?” Yang asked.
“Law enforcement in this nation is horrible,” he added, slamming media outlets that had reports “counting down” to the execution.
“If you think you are more humane than Cheng Chieh, why are you doing the same thing he did?” Yang said.
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