Murder of Tainan boy stirs death penalty debate

Linger Liu in Taipei/The China Post
Asia News Network4 December 2012

Taipei (The China Post/ANN) - Head prosecutor of the Tainan District Prosecutors Office Tseng Chao-kai yesterday said he does not rule out seeking the death sentence for a man who claims to have killed a 10-year-old on December 1.

Judicial authorities will take the perpetrator's motivation, level of immorality, confession and the impacts of his crime on society into consideration when deciding whether to press for capital punishment, he said.

Tseng's remarks came amid public outcry over comments by the alleged murdered. Zeng Wen-qin, 29, reportedly suggested that he won't receive a death sentence for killing only one person.

Tseng said that Zeng committed a brutal and inhuman murder that severely transgressed social values, adding that Zeng's contention that a murderer of only one or two victims will not get death sentence is utterly incorrect.

Taiwan's phasing out of capital punishment has yet not been finalised and currently judicial authorities can only try to reduce the frequency it is applied.

In this case, the judge has discretion to decide on whether to sentence the suspect to death if found guilty, Administrative Vice Minister of the Ministry of Justice Wu Chen-huan said.

Kuomintang Legislator Wang Yu-Minyesterday proposed legal act amendments to require pupils aged 15 and under to be accompanied by a parent or guardian when visiting video game arcades, and that such game centres not be permitted within 200 metres of school grounds.

The 10-year-old victim was found dead in the bathroom of a Tainan arcade.

According to Wang, the Electronic Game Arcade Business Regulation Act does not fully protect the rights of children visiting video game centres. She noted that current regulations only forbid those under the age of 15 from visiting arcades after 10pm.

Students are too young to understand the dangers that lurk in such game centres and as a result can be easy prey for criminals, Wang said.

She also noted that the Electronic Game Arcade Business Regulation Act allows gaming centres to operate legally near schools. The act only requires 5 metres between arcades and campuses.

The Tainan murder occurred in an arcade that operates right across from the victim's school.

Wang proposed that the act increase the required distance between schools and arcades to 200 metres or more. According to Article 17 of the act, a restricted-rate electronic game arcade shall prohibit the entry of people under the age of 18. Wang noted that a restricted-rate game centre should be specifically prohibited from operating within 1 kilometre of schools.

According to Yang Shu-ling, officer of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the central government will consider a proposal that requires parents accompany students under 15 to gaming centres.

She noted that business regulations belong to county and city governments' judicial authorities, so local governments have the rights to set legal distances between the arcades and schools.

Local governments, including New Taipei, Taipei and Tainan, currently have stricter laws than the central government, which will deeply consider the proposed amendment, Yang said.

Friends and classmates of the victim yesterday expressed their sadness and condolences over the crime.