Death penalty sought for man accused of beheading girl, 4

Wang (centre) is accused of beheading a four-year-old girl in March, in the presence of her mother, an act described as "extremely cold-blooded" by Taiwanese prosecutors.
Wang (centre) is accused of beheading a four-year-old girl in March, in the presence of her mother, an act described as "extremely cold-blooded" by Taiwanese prosecutors.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TAIPEI • Taiwanese prosecutors have indicted a man for murder over the public decapitation of a four-year-old girl, saying they would seek the death penalty for the "extremely cold-blooded" attack.

Wang Ching-yu, 33, is accused of overpowering the mother of the child near a metro station in central Taipei, and beheading the young girl with a kitchen knife.

The mother and a number of bystanders tried to intervene but were pushed away and unable to save the child, whom police have identified only by the surname Liu.

Prosecutors at the Shihlin District Court in Taipei said yesterday that it was an "extremely cold-blooded" crime which had deeply shocked the generally peaceful island.

"It has caused indelible pain to her mother, who witnessed the cruelty," the prosecutors said in a statement at the close of their investigation, which took less than two months.

"The suspect has never repented... so we suggest the court sentence him to death," they said, adding that capital punishment in this instance was important to maintain society's faith in law and justice.

Taiwan resumed capital punishment in 2010 after a five-year hiatus. Executions are reserved for serious crimes such as aggravated murder. Some politicians and rights groups have called for its abolition, but various opinion surveys show majority support for the death penalty.

After the March 28 decapitation, hundreds of Taiwanese, many dressed in black and wearing stickers reading "Death penalty is necessary", called for Wang to be executed.

Wang was arrested at the scene of the crime and was subsequently taken into custody. Prosecutors say that blood tests show Wang was not under the influence of drugs at the time of the crime, nor had he displayed any signs of mental illness after the attack.

Police said the 33-year-old had previously been arrested for drug-related crimes. He was attacked by an angry mob while in custody. Taiwan's Apple Daily has reported that he was unemployed and living with his parents, and had previously been hospitalised with mental health issues.

The killing came less than a year after an eight-year-old girl's throat was slit in her school restroom in Taipei. It sparked widespread public anger and fresh debate about capital punishment.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2016, with the headline 'Death penalty sought for man accused of beheading girl, 4'. Print Edition | Subscribe