TAIPEI - A court in southern Taiwan yesterday handed a life sentence to a man who murdered his sister and pickled her head in a gruesome crime that shocked the island.
Chen Chia-fu, 38, was taken into custody in March last year on suspicion of murdering and dismembering his sister for an insurance payout.
Prosecutors had sought the death penalty as he showed no remorse but, in their sentencing, the judges took into consideration his "abnormal" family background.
"The suspect had no criminal record. He grew up in a family with violence and family members with mental disorders. It was the root of his distorted personality," a spokesman in the Chiayi district court said, reading a court paper during a press conference.
The "pickled-head case" came to light after police in Chiayi county received a note claiming that the body of the woman, who had been missing since December 2012, was in a public toilet near a temple and asking for a "proper burial" for her.
The note, which led to the discovery of her head, became critical evidence as the writing matched Chen's, prosecutors said. The rest of the victim's body has yet to be located.
Chen was arrested after the police found surveillance footage showing him with bags carrying unidentified objects in Chiayi, they said.
He was also found to have bought at least four insurance policies for the 36-year-old woman, they said.
The police suspected Chen of taking a train from Taipei, where the siblings lived, to southern Taiwan, possibly to dispose of her head in a secure location.
Chen, who had pleaded not guilty, would file an appeal, the local media said.