Taiwan's 'safe' status under threat from lone wolf attacks

Taiwan's 'safe' status under threat from lone wolf attacks

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taoyuan City police reported on Feb. 15 that a 54-year-old man with the surname Hsih rode a bus from Nankang District to Sanchong District carrying a steak knife; he later whistled as he brushed the knife up against the bus' air vent. The behaviour caused panic among passengers and the bus driver drove directly to the police station, with the police soon apprehending the mentally disabled perpetrator. The event led many to remember the vicious Taipei MRT attack back in April of 2014.

Cheng Chie, the student charged with killing 4 and injuring 22 in Taipei's Jiangzicui MRT station in April of last year, is still on trial and possibly up for the death penalty. Prosecutors believe that Cheng's actions were cruel in intent and believe he should face the death penalty. Cheng's lawyer's main argument for avoiding the death penalty is that Cheng's usage of a knife did not give his victims a painful death.

Cheng's lawyer stated on Feb. 10 that Cheng now recognises that his actions were wrong, however he is unable to face the families of his victims and utter the word "regret." Cheng stated with his lawyer as an intermediary that if he could do it over again, he would not have committed the act.

Cheng previously mentioned words of remorse for his actions on Feb. 10, although his family responded to the media that they could not accept his apology. According to reports, Cheng appeared in New Taipei City District Court wearing sunglasses and speaking in a low voice. The victims' families believe Cheng was coaxed by his lawyer and did not make the statement independently.

Victims' family members openly expressed their anger and frustration at Cheng's lawyer for continuing to attempt to avoid the death penalty despite Cheng's "impulsive" "immature" and "cruel" actions.

Cheng's sentencing is currently scheduled for March 6 at New Taipei City District Court. As Cheng's mental health is a matter in question in addition to Cheng not giving his victims a painful death, the defence still has a chance of avoiding the death penalty.

Taiwan is often regarded as a very safe location by international tourists. However the Taipei MRT attack left the nation in shock and raised residents' concerns about public safety. Following the incident, Taipei and New Taipei City police were stationed in and around all MRT stations. Police and security guards still make periodic patrols in Taipei's MRTs.

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