Court changes elderly man’s sentence from life to death

The China Post news staff

A court has changed the life sentence of a 76-year-old man convicted of killing a woman and her two grandchildren by arson to a death sentence to deny the accused any chance of parole and the opportunity to kill again.

Taiwan High Court Tainan Branch judges imposed an even heavier sentence on convicted arsonist Kuo Chih-san (郭旗山), 76, to protect his intended arson victim, Chiu Min-hsiung (邱敏雄), who was out of the house when his home was set on fire. Kuo’s sentence was changed from life to death because he showed no remorse towards his victims and proved himself to be of an extremely cruel and perverse personality as he told Chiu, in court, that Chiu was very lucky to escape death the first time, but that he would try again if he got another chance, according to the court. Previous investigations revealed that Chiu had arranged for Kuo to stay in the community center of Chiayi County’s Xikou Township after finding out that Kuo could not pay the rent for his former residence, owned by Chiu’s cousin. In exchange for free lodging, Kuo was to guard equipment at the center.

Kuo, however, refused to watch the equipment for free and demanded NT$3,000 in monthly pay, which Chiu denied to pay. For years, Kuo had suspected Chiu of not fully assisting him in applying for senior citizen pension and a low-income household while Chiu served as village chief. Last June, when Chiu asked Kuo to clean the activity center or face eviction, Kuo was again angered and set fire to Chiu’s house, killing Chiu’s wife and two of his grandchildren.