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September 24, 2017

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MRT killing spree murderer executed

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- In a surprise announcement, the Justice Ministry last night confirmed the execution of Cheng Chieh (鄭捷), the killer who committed the grisly stabbing spree on the Taipei MRT in 2014.

The shooting execution, which took place only 18 days after the Supreme Court finalized his death sentence, marked one of the speediest executions of a death penalty prisoner in the history of Taiwan.

Justice Minister Luo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) reportedly signed the execution order before 5 p.m. Three shots were fired between 8:47 p.m. and 8:51 p.m. to put an end to the 23-year-old's life. Different from past practices, just one person on death row was executed last night.

Analysts said that with just 10 days left before the new government is sworn in, the sitting justice minister may have decided to take action to stall any chance of special amnesty granted by President-elect Tsai Ing-wen. The death penalty could potentially be turned into a life sentence.

The Death Penalty Overdue: Families of Slain Victims

The execution was performed shortly after Chen finished his final meal. Family members of the slain victims expressed relief after hearing the breaking news yesterday.

Slain victim Chieh Ching-yun's (解青雲) mother, surnamed Kao, said in an interview that she was never informed of the execution beforehand. Nevertheless, she said "we've been waiting for this moment," adding that the government has finally "sought justice on behalf of the public."

Referring to the video footage of Cheng playing basketball in the Justice Ministry's Taipei detention center, Chieh choked up in a TV interview. The nation's resources and taxpayers' hard-earned wealth ought not be wasted on such individuals, she said.

Execution According to the Law: Justice Ministry

On May 21, 2014, Cheng hopped on a MRT train heading west between Longshan Temple Station and Jiangzicui Station, the longest-lasting travel distance between any two MRT stations. With a 30-centimeter-long fruit knife, the assailant began hacking all passengers in his path, resulting in four deaths and 24 injuries

In a press conference held last night, Deputy Justice Minister Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂) said the death penalty was given in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The crime evidence was clear and the assailant had a clear intention to harm, Chen said, adding that there was no signs of psychiatric disorder that could have led to the criminal act.

The nation has recently witnessed higher occurrence of homicide in broad day light. Some have said the execution is necessary to deter potential offenders in the society.

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