Cabinet to propose harsher penalties for negligence causing death

Taipei-The Executive Yuan is planning to propose harsher penalties for those convicted of negligence causing death, as the current maximum sentence of five years imprisonment has been criticized as being too lenient in the wake of the April 2 Taroko Express train crash in which 49 people died.

The Ministry of Justice has drafted amendments to the existing law and the Cabinet is expected to pass the proposal on Thursday, an Executive Yuan official who declined to be named told CNA.

Once the proposal is approved, it will be sent to the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s highest lawmaking body, for deliberation, the official added.

The proposed amendment was raised because at present, the law does not allow for appropriate punishment, the official said.

The law came to public attention after the train crash on April 2, the deadliest that Taiwan has experienced in seven decades. It occurred when a crane truck tumbled down a steep incline onto a set of rail tracks in Hualien County near the entrance to a tunnel.

The Hualien District Prosecutor’s Office has said that the owner of the truck, Lee Yi-hsiang (???), was working on a slope stabilization project near the tracks on the day of the crash. The truck got stuck on the side of a slope when Lee was making a turn.

In an attempt to move the truck, he used a sling to tie the truck to an excavator, which he then used to try to lift the truck back up. However, the strap broke, causing the truck to roll down onto the railway, where a Taroko Express carrying nearly 500 people slammed into it a minute later.

Four people involved in the incident have been charged with negligence causing death, according to the Prosecutor’s Office.

Under Taiwan’s current law, anyone who negligently causes the death of another shall be sentenced to up to five years in prison or issued a fine of up to NT$500,000 (US$17,640), regardless of the severity of the crime.

The Executive Yuan plans to add a provision stating that in the case of a serious offense, the punishment will be set at one to seven years, the official said.

In addition, in the case of a serious offense in which three or more people die, the punishment will be three to 10 years in prison.

The Executive Yuan is also planning to propose amendments to punishments pertaining to overturning or damaging an occupied train, car, aircraft, or other vehicles and vessels, the official said.

Currently, those who intentionally commit a crime of this nature are sentenced to five years to life, while those who commit it due to negligence are sentenced to up to three years and a fine of up to NT$300,000.

Under the new proposal, if an intentional offense results in death, the punishment will be 10 years to life in prison. If it results in injury, the perpetrator will be sentenced to seven years to life, according to the official.

Anyone who commits the offense through negligence will be sentenced to up to five years in prison and issued a fine of up to NT$500,000, the official said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel