Top Ministry of Justice officials yesterday rejected allegations that Friday’s executions of six inmates were for “political reasons,” even though it emerged that three of the men had filed for “extraordinary appeals” in last-minute attempts at reprieve.
“Our ministry adhered to judicial processes and the death sentences were carried out under the mandate of the law. Public sentiment had no bearing on the decision,” Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂) said.
Chen on Friday said that thorough reviews of the six cases had been undertaken, implying that the appeals process for the condemned inmates had been exhausted.
However, it has since emerged that just before the executions on Friday, three of the six condemned men had requested extraordinary appeals, which can be filed under certain circumstances to challenge judicial rulings.
The requests were made by Cheng Chin-wen (鄭金文), Wang Hsiu-fang (王秀昉) and Huang Chu-wang (黃主旺), with their lawyers reportedly rushing the applications to the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office.
Cheng was convicted of torturing and killing two people in 2004, Wang was found guilty of killing his live-in partner and her daughter in 1996, while Huang was convicted of burying his victim alive in 1997, while on the run from a life sentence he received for an earlier murder plot.
The other three, Wang Chun-chin (王俊欽), Tsao Tien-shou (曹添壽) and Wang Yu-lung (王裕隆), reportedly did not apply for a last-minute reprieve.
Wang Chun-chin was convicted of murdering a fellow taxi driver in 2004.
Tsao was found guilty of the rape and murder of a high-school student in 2000 and former policeman Wang Yu-lung was convicted of beating two acquaintances to death in 2010.
Ministry of Justice officials said that during preliminary reviews, the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office found that the three had applied for extraordinary appeals before and therefore denied the new applications.
In addition, Wang Yu-lung had sought the Supreme Court’s interpretation on the legality of capital punishment and, before being executed on Friday, he complained about not seeing his judicial request reach a proper conclusion, the source said.
Another dispute centered on Chen’s statement on Friday that as far as he was aware, executions were carried out humanely, with prisoners first rendered unconscious by an anesthetic and then shot by a single bullet to the heart.
However, it emerged that Cheng Chin-wen had to be shot six times and took an hour to die, while Wang Chun-chin was shot twice.
When asked late on Friday following the executions, Minister of Justice Lo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) said she has empathy for inmates on death row because they live in a distressing situation.
Lo said she signed the execution orders on Thursday afternoon, and that “the entire process was done in a very careful and prudent manner. If there was any doubt, or any aspect that I felt uncomfortable with, or we were not 100 percent certain, then I would have removed the case from the execution list.”
Asked whether the executions were a hasty response to public anger over the mortal wounding of an eight-year-old girl at a school in Taipei City’s Beitou District (北投) last week, Lo reiterated that Friday’s executions had been planned by the Minister of Justice for a long time.
“The timing was only coincidental,” she said.aid.
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