Thu, Jul 05, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Presidential Office slams execution report as fake

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The Presidential Office yesterday slammed a report that President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration is mulling executing death-row inmates before November to assuage growing public discontent ahead of the local elections.

Online Chinese-language news outlet ETtoday yesterday morning cited anonymous sources as saying that Tsai, Minister of Justice Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) and other officials discussed at a meeting at the Presidential Office whether the government should carry out death sentences, among other topics.

The meeting was held amid growing public discontent over a spate of gruesome murders and the administration’s failure to execute any of the nation’s 43 death-row inmates since Tsai’s inauguration in May 2016, the report said.

Participants at the meeting were divided on whether death sentences should be carried out to salvage the administration’s declining approval ratings before the Nov. 24 nine-in-one local elections, the report said, adding that it would be a departure from Tsai’s campaign promise of abolishing the death penalty.

“However, a consensus was reached that the next person [to face execution] should not be someone from a long time ago and should be as high-profile as Cheng Chieh (鄭捷)... Otherwise, the execution might not serve as a deterrent,” ETtoday quoted the sources as saying.

Cheng, who killed four people and injured 23 on a Taipei Mass Rapid Transit train on May 21, 2014, was put to death on May 10, 2016. He was the last of the 33 inmates executed during former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) tenure.

Presidential Office spokesman Sidney Lin (林鶴明) said Tsai has never called such a meeting, nor had she ever discussed the matter with Chiu.

“The news site fabricated the story that Tsai called such a meeting with the justice minister to talk about the death penalty,” Lin said, adding that the office would ask ETtoday to pull the article immediately to prevent fake information from misleading the public.

The Ministry of Justice also issued a statement dismissing the report, saying that Tsai has never invited Chiu to the Presidential Office to discuss the enforcement of the death penalty.

Taiwan from December 2005 to April 2010 observed a de facto moratorium on the death penalty, after which the Ma administration broke the hiatus, despite the nation’s incorporation of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights into domestic law in 2009.

The covenant calls for the abolition of the death penalty and restricts its application to only the “most serious crimes.”

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