Taipei, The High Court came under public pressure Friday after overturning the guilty verdict of a man accused of killing and decapitating his mother, but said it did so because the defendant did not know what he was doing at the time.
The shocking case occurred on Oct. 17, 2018, when a 34-year-old man with the surname Liang hacked his 66-year-old mother to death with a machete in their home in Taoyuan. The mother was later found to have a total of 37 knife wounds on her head, arms, chest and abdomen.
The killing ended with the man, who has a history of drug abuse, chopping off the head of his mother and throwing it to the ground from the 12th floor of the building, according to prosecutors and police.
Liang was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Taoyuan District Court in September 2019 even though he was found to have an acute mental disorder from being poisoned by amphetamines that reduced his cognitive abilities.
After the case was appealed, the High Court ruled Thursday that Liang was not guilty based on medical assessment, saying the defendant could not control himself and was unaware of what he was doing when he attacked his mother because he was on drugs.
The court ordered the Taoyuan Department of Public Health to take over the case and decide whether medical arrangements should be made for the man.
The Taiwan High Prosecutors Office said prosecutors will “definitely” appeal the ruling, but people still wondered how anybody could be innocent when killing their own mother and if others could get away with similar crimes simply because they are on drugs and have diminished capacity.
In a statement in the form of questions and answers in response to public scrutiny of the verdict, the High Court cited Article 19 of the Criminal Code in its defense.
The provision says “an offense is not punishable if it is committed by a person who has mental disorders or other mental disabilities and, as a result, is unable or less able to judge his act or lacks the ability to act according to his judgment.”
Justice Minister Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥) said Thursday that he respected the High Court’s verdict but stressed it was a ruling based on individual situation, and he urged people not to mistake it as an excuse to arbitrarily break the law.
He said adults and teenagers should not think they can be acquitted of charges for a crime if they “screw themselves up” to the point of losing their cognitive ability and harm others.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel