Fri, Oct 11, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Hydrofluoric acid rules bolstered after charges laid

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Hands damaged by hydrofluoric acid are pictured in Miaoli County on Aug. 29 in a file photograph unrelated to the story.

Photo: Cheng Ming-hsiang, Taipei Times

Government officials yesterday moved to bolster regulations for hydrofluoric acid after prosecutors announced murder charges in an acid attack case.

The attack occurred in August last year, but information on it garnered attention after prosecutors charged a university student with the murder of an elderly man in Kaohsiung after a dispute over the use of public space.

Measures will be taken to restrict the sale of hydrofluoric acid online and in stores, while strict conditions will be imposed on its production, transportation, import, export, storage and approved uses, said Hsieh Yen-ju (謝燕儒), who is head of the Environmental Protection Administration’s Toxic and Chemical Substances Bureau.

The announcement comes after a Kaohsiung Medical University student surnamed Lin (林), 19, was charged after reportedly buying hydrofluoric acid at a chemical supply store in Kaohsiung.

Investigators said at the time that Lin squabbled with a man surnamed Fu (傅), 79, over the use of a sheltered space at a park near the Kaohsiung Cultural Center.

Lin practiced juggling with burning torches, while Fu practiced taichi, investigators said, adding that Fu apparently asked Lin to practice elsewhere, saying his actions were dangerous.

They argued over the issue on July 7 last year, when Lin allegedly pushed Fu, who sustained a minor head wound, investigators said, adding that after Fu lodged a formal complaint, Lin was made to pay NT$3,000.

Prosecutors said that Lin on Aug. 20 bought the hydrofluoric acid using his university ID and saying it was for lab work when the proprietor asked why he needed it.

The following day, he went to the pavilion where he allegedly attacked Fu with a stun gun before splashing acid on Fu’s head, neck and chest, investigators said.

Investigators said that according to witnesses, Fu yelled and ran about 100m before collapsing.

He died of multiple organ failure after being rushed to hospital, police said.

“It was horrible to see white smoke rising from the old man’s body,” police quoted a witness as saying.

Investigators detained Lin, finding a stun gun and a receipt for a purchase of hydrofluoric acid at his residence, they said.

After more than a year of investigation, prosecutors indicted Lin on murder charges.

Students and staff at Kaohsiung Medical University expressed shocked, as Lin had attended classes after the incident.

Making hydrofluoric acid a controlled substance would restrict its sale so it cannot be bought without proper authorization, Hsieh said.

Hopefully, this would prevent more attacks like this one, he said.

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