TAIPEI, Taiwan - As debate over whether to preserve or abolish the death penalty heats up, victims of a 2014 knife attack were seen at the Taipei High Court yesterday, begging the judge to sentence Cheng Chieh to death.
In May 2014, Cheng bought a 30-centimeter-long knife and randomly slashed passengers on the Taipei Metro as the train drove from Longshan Temple Station to Jiangzicui Station. He took four lives and injured 22 others, shocking society with his cruelty during and after the killings.
The public were not only terrified, but also enraged. While many insisted that Cheng should "get what he deserves as soon as possible," the majority of people began to discuss what had caused a college student to commit such a heinous crime.
His parents, classmates and teachers all had fingers pointed at them to take blame for Cheng's possible mental illness. A consensus was never reached, however, the public become extremely attentive to the debate over capital punishment.
On March 6 of this year, the New Taipei City District Court handed Cheng four death sentences after he was found guilty of four counts of murder; Cheng was further convicted of 22 counts of attempted murder for which he was sentenced to a total of 144 years imprisonment.
"The district court badly wants me dead so I don't care at all what they say. I just want them to get the verdict done as soon as possible so that we can take this case to the high court," Cheng reportedly said just before the court announced its final judgment.
Survivor Begs for Death
When the Taipei High Court reopened the case yesterday, a survivor of the attack, a woman known by the English name Sevelyn, arrived at the scene, demanding in tears that Cheng be sentenced to death.
The woman said that she lost one of her breasts after Cheng stabbed her three times. Moreover, she added that she "can no longer sleep without taking sleeping pills and since then and I still shiver when facing a crowd." She asked the judge to sentence her to death if not Cheng.
The mother of one of the victims also went to the court, saying that "it's not fair my child is murdered and the murderer stays alive."
Defense Lawyer Puts Blame on Mental Illness
According to prosecutors, Cheng barely spoke a word at court. His lawyer argued that Cheng was only 21 years old when he committed the crime, had little experience of society and that it was his childhood traumas that led him to commit such a crime.