Sat, Jun 17, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Cafe owner found liable for murder

PARTIAL RESPONSIBILITY:The Supreme Court ruled that the cafe’s owners were required to pay compensation to family for the murder of two people by their employee

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

The Supreme Court ruled that Lu Ping-hung (呂炳宏), owner of Mama Mouth Cafe, was among the parties liable to pay compensation in a 2013 double murder by cafe manager Hsieh Yi-han (謝依涵).

The court on Thursday ruled that Lu and two other shareholders of the cafe, along with Hsieh, must pay NT$3.68 million (US$121,128) to the families of the two victims, businessman Chen Chin-fu (陳進福) and his wife, Chang Tsui-ping (張翠萍).

Hsieh was convicted, but appealed the death sentence, with the court handing her a life term in April in the final ruling.

Lu had hired Hsieh to manage the cafe on the shore of the Tamsui River (淡水河) in New Taipei City’s Bali District (八里).

At the start of the investigation, Hsieh was accused of killing the couple for money and dumping their bodies into the river in February 2013.

Their bodies were found washed up on the bank a few days later.

In Thursday’s decision, the judges ruled that Lu and the other two shareholders were liable for compensation, as they had hired Hsieh as the manager.

The couple became acquainted with Hsieh when they visited the cafe to have coffee, developing a friendly relationship with her, which became more intimate over time.

Chen reportedly bought jewelry and other expensive gifts for Hsieh, as well as giving her money to buy stocks.

It was reported that Chen had thought of Hsieh as his daughter, while Hsieh testified that the two had had a sexual relationship.

However, members of the murdered couple’s family vehemently denied this.

Hsieh dissolved sleeping pills into the couple’s drinks on the night of their deaths, investigators said.

When they blacked out, Hsieh dumped the bodies into the river before returning to the cafe and finishing her duties, the court said.

The court said that the cafe’s owner was partially responsible, as the murder was committed while Hsieh was at work, citing Article 188 of the Civil Code, which states: “The employer shall be jointly liable to make compensation for any injury which the employee has wrongfully caused to the rights of another in the performance of their duties.”

The court ruled that the owners of Mama Mouth Cafe did not properly supervise their employees and failed to check on the welfare of the victims, which could have prevented the tragedy.

Lu said he was shocked by the ruling, adding that he would have to sell his house to pay.

Chinese National Federation of Industries secretary-general Tsai Lien-sheng (蔡練生) said that the decision was detrimental to business conduct, as only the convict is responsible for the crime, while the employer should not be liable if they were not a party to the crime.

“This murder was a crime by an individual. The cafe had bad luck in hiring someone who became a murderer. The employer should not be responsible for the employees’ behavior. The ruling is wrong,” Tsai said.

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