Taiwan executes five death-row inmates

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwanese authorities said they executed five death-row inmates Tuesday, nearly a year after six prisoners were put to death.

The justice ministry said the five were put to death in various parts of the island. They were the first executions ordered by Luo Ying-shay since she became justice minister last September.

The inmates were anaesthetised and then shot, it said. There are now 47 prisoners on death row, according to the ministry.

Taiwan resumed executions in 2010 after a five-year hiatus, putting four people to death. There were five executions in 2011, six in 2012 and another six in 2013.

Taiwan reserves the death penalty for serious crimes including aggravated murder and kidnapping, but the political elite is divided about whether to retain it.

The abolitionist debate was revived after judicial and military authorities came under fire over the execution of a soldier wrongly convicted in a child murder case.

Chiang Kuo-ching, a 21-year-old executed by shooting in 1997, was posthumously acquitted in a military court in 2011 of the rape and murder of a five-year-old girl.

He had insisted on his innocence and said he was coerced by a group of air force intelligence officers into confessing.