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April 30, 2017

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Top court upholds life sentence for Bali District cafe double murder

TAIPEI --The Supreme Court on Wednesday denied an appeal against the sentence of life imprisonment handed down to a woman who robbed and murdered an elderly couple, bringing the case to a close.

The 31-year-old defendant, Hsieh Yi-han, was sentenced to death by Shilin District Court in Taipei for robbery and murder in October 2013, a verdict that was upheld in September 2014 by the Taiwan High Court.

However, the Supreme Court overturned the death penalty in February 2015 and remanded the case to the Taiwan High Court for review, which then commuted the death penalty to life imprisonment in January this year.

In its ruling on Wednesday, the Supreme Court said that although the crimes Hsieh committed were severe, she had displayed no violent tendencies after being arrested.

The court also noted that the defendant, who had no previous criminal record, had broken no rules during her detention and following a psychological assessment had been determined to not suffer from any personality disorder.

Hsieh had made a clean break with her past errors and was at low risk of repeating her crime, the court said.

In addition, the court indicated that Hsieh must serve a minimum of 25 years before the possibility of parole.

Hsieh was convicted of killing Shih Chien University assistant professor Chang Tsui-ping, 58 and her husband, Chen Chin-fu, 79, then dumping their bodies in the Tamsui River in New Taipei's Bali District, in February 2013.

She was working as manager at a popular riverside coffee shop and befriended the couple who lived nearby.

After the murders, Hsieh withdrew NT$350,000 (US$11,500) from Chen's bank account but was not successful in her attempt to take money out of Chang's account by passing herself off as the murdered woman.

The case came to light after the bodies of Chen and Chang were discovered near the riverside cafe, days after their deaths.

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