MOJ wor­ries death-row in­mates may fake men­tal ill­ness


The Min­istry of Jus­tice (MOJ, ) is re­port­edly wor­ried that deathrow in­mates might feign men­tal ill­ness to es­cape pun­ish­ment, due to the MOJ’s de­ci­sion to post­pone the ex­e­cu­tions of two in­mates on the grounds of men­tal dis­or­der in the six con­tro­ver­sial ex­e­cu­tions that took place on June 5, the United Evening News has re­ported.

The six con­tro­ver­sial ex­e­cu­tions were car­ried out in the af­ter­math of na­tion­wide out­rage over the slay­ing of an eight-year-old school­girl. Prior to sen­tenc­ing, two of the in­mates orig­i­nally sched­uled for ex­e­cu­tion on June 5 were re­placed with other in­mates, as they were deemed men­tally in­ca­pac­i­tated.

Be­fore Jus­tice Min­is­ter Luo Ying-shay ( ) gave the ex­e­cu­tion or­der, in­ves­ti­ga­tion teams had be­gun prepara­tory pro­ce­dures for the ex­e­cu­tions with the aim of rul­ing out whether the death-row in­mates had ap­plied for ju­di­cial re­view, ex­tra­or­di­nary ap­peal or re­tri­als. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion teams then checked with the Pres­i­den­tial Of­fice as to whether the in­mates had been par­doned or were un­der­go­ing amnesty pro­ce­dures.

Ex­e­cu­tion war­rants were then is­sued for pris­on­ers who did not have a valid rea­son for avoid­ing the death penalty.

Heeded Int’l Re­ports

Two years ago, the MOJ in­vited in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights ex­perts to ex­am­ine Tai­wan’s Hu­man Rights Re­port.

The ex­perts con­cluded that Tai- wan should not ex­e­cute in­mates with men­tal or in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties.

While the rec­om­men­da­tion was not bind­ing on the gov­ern­ment, the MOJ still de­cided to in­clude men­tal or in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties among the fac­tors that could in­flu­ence a de­ci­sion not to is­sue an ex­e­cu­tion war­rant.

Ac­cord­ing to the Code of Crim­i­nal Pro­ce­dure Ar­ti­cle 465, un­less or­dered by the Supreme Court, death-row in­mates with men­tal or in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties must not be ex­e­cuted un­til they are de­clared to be re­cov­ered by med­i­cal ex­perts.

It was re­ported that the prepara­tory pro­ce­dures for the ex­e­cu­tions of the six death-row in­mates be­gan in April, and the killing of the school­girl in­ci­dent oc­curred co­in­ci­den­tally dur­ing the fi­nal stages of the in­spec­tion.

The MOJ in­ves­ti­ga­tion team in­ves­ti­gated the orig­i­nal six in­mates who were to be ex­e­cuted on June 5, but found that one of them claimed to be suf­fer­ing from a men­tal ill­ness, while another had un­der­gone treat­ment with a psy­chi­a­trist. The MOJ sub­se­quently opted to post­pone ex­e­cu­tion on the two in­mates and sub­sti­tuted two other deathrow in­mates to be ex­e­cuted.

Low-pro­file MOJ

The UEN news re­port claims that the MOJ has been wary of advertising the fact that those suf­fer­ing from men­tal or in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties could be el­i­gi­ble for a post­pone­ment of their ex­e­cu­tion. The UEN claims the MOJ is wor­ried that other death-row in­mates could feign a dis­abil­ity in or­der to avoid the death penalty.

How­ever, MOJ of­fi­cials have said that it is not dif­fi­cult to un­cover in­ci­dents of feigned men­tal or in­tel­lec­tual ill­nesses be­cause of ad­vances in med­i­cal di­ag­noses. Those who have a ver­i­fi­able men­tal or in­tel­lec­tual ill­ness re­main ex­empt from the death penalty.

Taxpayers pay for the psy­chi­atric as­sess­ment pro­ce­dures. For ex­am­ple, the New Taipei City Pros­e­cu­tor’s Of­fice had to pay ap­prox­i­mately NT$300,000 in as­sess­ment test­ing fees for MRT mur­derer Cheng Chieh ( ) in last year’s MRT stab­bing in­ci­dent.

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