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Justice minister issues first order to execute 5 death row convicts

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Five convicts on death row were executed yesterday, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) announced last night.

This is the first time Justice Minister Luo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) has given the order to carry out death sentences since she took office in September 2013.

The MOJ said Luo signed the orders on Monday, adding that the executions were carried out at 6:30 p.m. yesterday in prisons in Taipei, Taichung (台中), Tainan (台南) and Hualien (花蓮).

Death-row inmates Teng Kuo-liang (鄧國樑), Tu Ming-hsiung (杜明雄), Tu Ming-lang (杜明郎), Liu Yang-kuo (劉炎國) and Tai Wen-ching (戴文慶) had all committed brutal crimes and had lost their consciences, the ministry said.

MOJ Deputy Minister Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂) held a press conference last night, saying that the crimes that the five convicts had been convicted of included murders, sexual assaults and robberies. The total was 33 robberies, the deaths of 11 innocent people and four injuries. Many of the victims were tortured to death, Chen added.

Chen went on to say that the five death-row inmates had received their final verdicts from the Supreme Court, noting that the MOJ underwent all necessary procedures to ensure that each convict's current legal status is not currently being appealed or involved in constitutional issues.

Considering the trauma suffered by the victims' families and the social unrest caused by the five convicts, the MOJ decided to give the order to have them executed.

Chen reiterated the MOJ's position on capital punishment, saying that the ministry remains willing to carry out the death penalty, but is trying to reduce the “chance” of executing death-row convicts.

The MOJ urges human rights activists to understand the pain the victims' families have been through and to consider some of the death-row inmates' willingness to die, Chen said, adding that the MOJ has to carry out executions in accordance with the law.

April 30, 2014    boogurtwang@
Well done.
April 30, 2014    lukewarm@
A desperate government has turned the death penalty into a political tool to distract, if not threaten, the public in a time of crisis.
April 30, 2014    somebackground@
After the Tu brothers and their father were arrested in Taiwan, the courts relied on evidence provided by the Chinese authorities to determine the case. All three men claimed they had nothing to do with the murders, and the father died while in jail.

Anyone who follows developments in China is aware of the highly problematic nature of that country’s judicial system, which is rife with corruption and is often little more than a tool for local politicians to settle scores with their opponents — including dissidents. Confessions in China, often made under duress, are highly unreliable and severely criticized by human rights organizations.

And yet, democratic Taiwan had no compunction in using the confessions made by the Tus obtained from China’s Public Security Bureau (PSB). Besides the highly questionable — and often contradictory accounts — by witnesses in Guangdong, the Tus were not given the opportunity to examine them, a violation of due process and their rights under the Republic of China Constitution.

Although a lower court initially found the brothers not guilty on insufficient evidence, the ruling was subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court, leading to their April 29 execution.
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Members of the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty and various related groups hold up signs outside the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), yesterday. The signs relayed messages of disapproval against the MOJ execution of five death-row inmates. (CNA)

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