Samurai sword attacker outside Taiwan president's office jailed for seven years

Lu Chun-yi slashed a military police guard, who was trying to prevent him from entering the complex, with a stolen samurai sword on Aug 18, 2017.
Lu Chun-yi slashed a military police guard, who was trying to prevent him from entering the complex, with a stolen samurai sword on Aug 18, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI (AFP) - A man who used a stolen samurai sword to attack a guard outside Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen's office last year was sentenced on Thursday (March 22) to seven years in prison for attempted murder.

Carrying the flag of China, Lu Chun-yi slashed the military police guard, who was trying to prevent him from entering the complex, in the neck, face, and hands with the sword before being arrested.

Lu - in detention since the Aug 18 attack - has said he wanted to fly the Chinese flag in the presidential office, and was carrying handwritten notes threatening to "behead" President Tsai.

In the notes, prosecutors said, Lu also expressed the hope that Beijing will make Taiwan a part of China again.

Beijing still sees self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification even though they split in 1949 after a civil war.

The island's relations with China have deteriorated since Ms Tsai took power in 2016 as she has refused to agree to Beijing's stance that Taiwan is part of "one China".

"The defendant was aware that slashing another person in the neck with a samurai sword could cause death but intentionally did it... and inflicted physical and emotional injuries," the Taipei district court said in the verdict.

 

Prosecutors said Lu "tried to portray himself as a martyr", and showed no remorse for the attack.

Responding to the attempted murder charge, however, Lu denied that he was trying to kill the guard.

Lu, 51, was also convicted of five lesser charges including theft, as he stole the samurai sword from a military history museum by smashing a display case with a hammer. He can appeal against the ruling.

The sword is carved with the phrase "Nanjing battle, (this sword) killed 107 people" and is believed to have been used by Japanese soldiers during the Nanjing massacre in 1937.

The presidential office complex and its surroundings in the centre of the capital Taipei have been the target of attacks before.

In 2014, a driver tried to smash his vehicle into the front door of the nearby presidential residence, several months after a man rammed a huge truck through a bullet-proof screen and into the main gate of the presidential office.

No one was injured in either incident, except one of the drivers.