Minister of Justice Luo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) yesterday said that she decided to carry out the execution of Cheng Chieh (鄭捷) because the case had unsettled the public and caused much fear regarding safety in public places, that she was just doing her job and that Cheng had brought the death sentence on himself.
Many questions were being raised regarding Luo’s role and her decisionmaking after Tuesday night’s execution of Cheng, who was convicted of killing four people and injuring 22 in a stabbing spree on a Taipei mass rapid transit system train in May 2014, as she had only two days left in office before the resignation of the Cabinet today ahead of the incoming government taking over on Friday next week.
Luo said her ministry made the decision after receiving the official documents from the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office on Tuesday.
Photo: Lee Jung-ping, Taipei Times
“It was I who decided to carry out the execution of Cheng Chieh ahead of other pending cases. This case damaged our society and made people fear for their personal safety in public places, so it had to be prioritized ahead of other cases. My colleagues in the justice ministry all supported this decision,” Luo said.
She said that the evidence was clear to everyone, there was no likelihood of a wrong conviction and the ministry wanted to deter copycat crimes.
“The death sentence was given by Cheng Chieh to himself. His crime was so serious that even those judges who favored abolishing capital punishment supported it. Cheng was given four death sentences, as well as being convicted of other offenses of causing intentional injury. What he did gave the judges no choice but to hand down the death sentences,” she said.
Luo also said she was doing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) minister of justice-designate Chiu Tai-shan (邱太三) a favor by carrying out the execution.
“I know that quite a few DPP officials are in favor of abolishing capital punishment, so Chiu might have had difficulty deciding whether to carry out the order on this case. I took the decision, which is good for everyone concerned, and took the problem off Chiu’s hands,” Luo said.
Cheng’s was the 12th execution order the minister had signed since taking office in September 2013.
Officials also provided more details on the procedures at the Taipei Detention Center on Tuesday, where Cheng was informed of his fate at about 8pm and then was given his last meal, a stewed pork boxed meal with rice and vegetables.
Cheng said he was in fear of feeling pain, so a general anaesthesia was administered to him by medical staff and, after falling unconscious, he was placed face down on a mattress.
The executioner shot him from behind, targeting a marked-out circle indicating his heart.
It took three shots before the coroner verified Cheng’s death, officials said.
Huang Chih-hao (黃致豪), one of Cheng’s defense lawyers, said that as soon as he heard the announcement on Tuesday, he called the ministry to request a stay of execution, but the official who answered the telephone told him: “We will carry out the law as required.”
“I don’t know why there was such a rush for the Ministry of Justice to carry out the execution,” Huang said.
New Power Party legislators had mixed reactions over the execution.
“The people who have the most authority to comment on [Cheng’s] death sentence are those who were injured and their families,” NPP Legislator Hung Tzu-yung (洪慈庸) said, adding that the issue she cared most about was how to build a more effective social safety net.
“I feel that the Ministry of Justice should not have been so sudden and arbitrary in carrying out the sentence,” NPP Legislator Freddie Lim (林昶佐) said, calling for the establishment of a more transparent, legally defined decisionmaking process.
“While the sentence was carried out much more rapidly than in previous cases, given that it is already completed, I feel the focus of discussion should be placed on how to more effectively prevent crime,” NPP Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) said, reiterating that the party has no official position on the death penalty, while members hold differing views on its effectiveness in deterring crime
‘LOCAL TRANSMISSION’: The nation reported 11 new cases, including seven local infections in the north, the highest daily number of cases since the pandemic began The COVD-19 situation has entered the “local transmission” stage and enhanced disease prevention measures have been implemented until June 8, the Central Epidemic Command Center announced yesterday as it reported six locally transmitted cases with unclear infection sources. The center reported 11 new cases yesterday: four imported cases from India, and seven local infections in northern Taiwan, the highest daily number of cases since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that one of the local infections — case No. 1,201 — is a woman who is a family member living with
SIXTEEN LOCAL: Three COVID-19 infections are linked to a cluster at a gambling house in Yilan County, 10 to a case in New Taipei City and three had unclear sources The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday urged people to increase vigilance and thoroughly practice preventive measures against COVID-19 as it reported 16 locally transmitted cases of the disease. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that 21 cases were confirmed in Taiwan yesterday: 16 local cases, four imported cases and one case undetermined. The locally transmitted cases are three linked to a cluster of infections at a gambling house in Yilan County, 10 associated with a previous case in New Taipei City and three with unclear sources of infection. The CECC on Tuesday reported a cluster
TRACING TROUBLE: An infected man who had said that all his children were abroad was found to have a daughter in Kaohsiung who tested positive, the center said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported a new daily record of 29 local COVID-19 cases, including seven cases with unknown sources of infection. Of the 29 cases, 16 are linked to tea houses in Taipei’s Wanhua District (萬華), Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told a news briefing in Taipei. The 16 are tea house workers or visitors, or their contacts, the CECC said. Workers and visitors to the establishments have frequent interpersonal contact, but few protective measures against the COVID-19 pandemic are in place, Chen said, urging those who have been exposed or have
ENFORCING CAUTION: Certain entertainment facilities are to close nationwide to prevent people traveling there from high-risk areas in the north, the center said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday raised the COVID-19 alert for Taipei and New Taipei City to level 3 in light of surging cases in the two cities. The enhanced disease prevention measures for level 3 are to be implemented until May 28, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told a morning news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei. With 180 locally transmitted cases confirmed yesterday, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said that the government must take immediate action to protect the public, referring to measures stipulated in the Communicable Disease Control Act (傳染病防治法). Other counties