A woman who started a fire in a building in Kaohsiung last year that killed 46 people and injured 41 was sentenced to life in prison by the Kaohsiung District Court on Friday.
The court found Huang Ke-ke (黃格格) guilty of arson and manslaughter after finding that she had deliberately left the burning residue from mosquito repellent incense on a sofa to set fire to her then-boyfriend’s apartment in the Cheng Chung Cheng mixed-used commercial-residential building on Oct. 14 last year.
However, the court found the 52-year-old not guilty of murder — a charge that could have carried the death penalty — saying that she did not start the fire with the intention of killing the building’s occupants.
Considering the severity of the case, Huang must serve a minimum of 25 years in prison before she would be eligible for parole, the court said.
Prosecutors, who had originally indicted Huang on homicide charges and offenses against public safety, said they would appeal the verdict.
The prosecutors argued that by starting the blaze in a densely populated building at a time when most residents were asleep, Huang intended to kill an indeterminate number of people.
Family members of those who died in the fire also expressed displeasure with the judgement, telling Chinese-language media that Huang had shown a lack of remorse throughout the trial.
The blaze in the city’s Yancheng District (鹽埕) was the second-deadliest building fire in Taiwan after 64 people were killed in a conflagration at the Weierkang Club in Taichung in 1995.
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