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July 23, 2017

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Cheng indicted for Taipei Metro stabbings

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- MRT stabbing suspect Cheng Chieh (鄭捷) yesterday was indicted by the New Taipei District Prosecutors Office (NTDPO) on four counts of murder and 22 counts of attempted murder, with prosecutors also asking the court to levy the death penalty on Cheng for the crime.

On the afternoon of May 21 the 21-year-old suspect boarded a Taipei MRT train at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall Station heading in the direction of Yongning Station. At 4:24 p.m., while the train was driving from Longshan Temple Station to the Jiangzicui Station—the longest ride on the entire Taipei metro system — Cheng allegedly took out a 30-centimeter-long knife and started to randomly stab victims, the NTDPO said.

This stabbing spree was the first of its kind on Taipei's MRT system since it began operating in 1996. During the four-minute ride, Cheng allegedly attacked and stabbed victims in the fourth, fifth and sixth compartments of the train, leading to four deaths and 22 injuries, prosecutors said. The suspect has been detained since the incident took place.

Psychiatric Tests

During a press conference yesterday morning, the NTDPO said in order to further interpret Cheng's motives, the prosecutors sent Cheng to National Taiwan University Hospital to undergo a series of psychiatric evaluations.

New Taipei prosecutors said that based on Cheng's psychiatric evaluation, he is not insane or feeble-minded, however, the evaluation described Cheng an "anti-social, narcissist, apathetic and suicidal" person. The psychiatric evaluation indicates that Cheng is fit to stand trial, the prosecutors added.

According to the investigation, the prosecutors discovered that Cheng allegedly made a vow to murder people when he was in elementary school and had a dispute with two female classmates.

Prosecutors further said that as Cheng deemed it would be hard to kill the two classmates, he allegedly decided to randomly attack people on an MRT train to fulfill his childhood vow.

New Taipei prosecutors said they also discovered that Cheng had written over 10 short stories about murders on his laptop, noting that one of the stories included a scenario whereby the killings took place on an MRT train. Prosecutors said, however, that the plot of the short story does not have a direct relation to the MRT stabbing incident.

In the indictment, the prosecutors characterized the incident as a "mass killing" that was "heinous and appalling." Prosecutors said that Cheng caused permanent trauma to the victims and their families and showed no remorse for what he had done, noting that, because of this, the prosecutors asked the district court to give Cheng the death penalty if found guilty.

Families' Responses

New Taipei City Councilor Lin Kuo-chun (林國春), who had released a press statement on behalf of Cheng's parents in May, yesterday quoted Cheng's father as saying that his parents have already expected that their son would face the death penalty for the incident.

Chang Su-mi (張素密), mother of one of the deceased victims, yesterday responded to the NTDPO's indictment, saying that even if the prosecutors had asked to issue 100 death penalties to Cheng, it would not bring her son back to her.

Chang said her heart aches whenever people mention the MRT stabbing incident, noting that outsiders can never really understand the pain and suffering of the families of the victims.

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