Chen Chin-hsing (
The swift action taken by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) was criticized by human rights groups and legal experts, who have long contended the Act for the Control and Punishment of Banditry (
Amid intense media attention, Chen -- who received three death sentences for a series of killings, robberies, and rapes in 1997 -- was shot to death just after 9:30pm yesterday evening.
PHOTO: HUANG JUI-PO, LIBERTY TIMES
Before his execution, Chen had agreed to donate his heart, lungs, kidneys and corneas to patients in need. His body was removed to Chang Gung Memorial Hospital at Linkuo (
At the same time, there were three others executed in Taipei, Chen Wen-hai (
The three members of the Hsichih Trio case -- which is believed to be seriously flawed by human rights groups because the convictions were obtained on the basis of confessions which the accused men said were extracted under torture -- were also given mandatory death sentences under the same law. However, the three, Su Chien-ho (
Pai Hsiao-yen (白曉燕), the daughter of the popular TV entertainer Pai Ping-ping, was kidnapped and eventually killed after days of torture by Chen and two other men, Lin Chun-sheng (林春生) and Kao Tien-min (高天民), both of whom killed themselves during shootouts with police in August and November 1997, respectively.
Chen, having committed the murder of the teen in April 1997, was also responsible for a string of killings and abductions during the same year -- the abduction of a Taipei County councillor in June, the kidnapping of a businessman in August and the murder of a plastic surgeon, his wife and a nurse at the surgeon's clinic in October.
The night before his arrest on Nov. 19, 1997, Chen held hostage the family of South African military attache Colonel McGill Alexander in a walled compound in northern Taipei. After a 24-hour standoff, Chen finally surrendered himself and ended six months as a fugitive.
Last December the Supreme Court finalized three death sentences on Chen for the string of crimes. However, the Supreme Court, Taiwan's highest court of appeal, requested a review of Pai's murder because of doubts as to whether or not Chen's brother-in-law Chang Chih-hui (
After its review of the bloody kidnapping and murder, the Taiwan High Court reaffirmed Chen's death sentence on Sept. 23 this year and determined that Chen's execution -- under the previous three finalized sentencings -- would not affect judgement on Chang's case.
Justice Minister Yeh Chin-feng (
Execution under the bandit law has been a thorny issue for the MOJ, given the controversy surrounding the law. In August, the Council of Grand Justices, the island's judicial review authority, rejected an appeal for a reinterpretation of the validity of the bandit law, referring disputes over its validity to the legislature.
When the bandit law was promulgated in 1944 it had a "sunset clause" attached, which abolished the law after one year unless the legislature renewed it.
Arguably, this was not done in time in 1945 and the law therefore lapsed. Nevertheless, the legislature -- some claim unconstitutionally -- extended the law annually over the 13 years that followed and finally deleted the sunset clause in 1957, allowing the law to stand in perpetuity.
Legal scholars and lawyers have argued that on four occasions before 1957 the legislature failed to extend the law as required. They have urged the government to declare the law invalid and called on Yeh to postpone signing the execution order on these eleven people.
However, having obtained detailed records from the legislature, the ministry claimed the documents have verified the law-making process concerning the act and thus the executions are justifiable.
Chen Chin-hsing's wife, Chang Su-chen (
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