Man gets reduced sentence in train derailment case

By Rich Chang  /  Staff Reporter

Sat, Jul 31, 2010 - Page 2

Lee Tai-an (李泰安), convicted of involvement in a South Link railway train derailment, was sentenced yesterday to 13 years in jail by the Taiwan High Court’s Kaohsiung branch.

Yesterday’s ruling was the third verdict for Lee, who can still appeal the case to the Supreme Court. In Lee’s first and second trials, he was was sentenced to life imprisonment and 18 years in prison by the Pingtung District Court and the Taiwan High Court’s Kaohsiung branch, respectively.

The ruling yesterday said Lee Tai-an and his brother Lee Shuang-chuan (李雙全), who committed suicide on March 23, 2006, as investigators began suspecting his involvement in the train derailment, conspired to destroy railway infrastructure and murder Chen Hong-chen (陳氏紅琛), the Vietnamese spouse of Lee Shuang-chuan.

The ruling said Lee Shuang-chuan had been the primary perpetrator, while Lee Tai-an was an accessory, so the court decided to reduce his sentence. The court found Lee Tai-an guilty of ­murder, destruction of railway infrastructure, endangering passenger safety and illegitimately collecting insurance payouts after Chen’s death.

Chen did not die in the train derailment — she was murdered, the ruling said. The incident occurred on March 17, 2006, when an express train traveling from Taitung to Kaohsiung derailed in Pingtung County. Among the passengers on the train were Lee Shuang-chuan — a Taiwan Railway Administration employee — and his wife.

Chen died in hospital after the derailment, but prosecutors became suspicious after they discovered that Lee Shuang-chuan had taken out a NT$20 million (US$624, 498) life insurance policy on his wife, which covered accidental death, a few days prior to the derailment.

The ruling said Chen had first been injected with Etumine, a strong sedative mainly administered to patients with mental illnesses, and then with snake poison, by Lee Shuang-chuan before she boarded the train. She was injected with an additional poison after being admitted to the hospital.