Beheading of child sparks death penalty debate in Taiwan

Beijing, March 30 (IANS) The death of a four-year-old girl, who was beheaded in a knife attack in Taiwan, has sparked widespread public anger on the island and criticism of calls to abolish the death penalty.

The attack on Monday took place when the child was cycling toward a Metro station with her mother in Taipei, China Daily reported.

Police said that a 33-year-old man decapitated the girl with a cleaver knife in front of her mother.

Bystanders heard the mother screaming and rushing to restrain the attacker till the police arrived.

The suspect, Wang Ching-yu, had been arrested in the past for drug-related crimes and had twice sought treatment for mental illness after physical altercations with his family, police said.

Television footage showed that angry people gathered outside a police station in Taipei where the suspect was being held.

Some attacked the suspect as he was being transferred to the prosecutor’s office for questioning.

Many went to lay flowers and toys at the spot where the girl was killed.

Taiwan resumed capital punishment in 2010 after a five-year hiatus. Executions are reserved for serious crimes, including aggravated murder and kidnapping, but politicians are divided over whether or not to retain it.

Hung Hsiuchu, leader of the Kuomintang party, wrote on her Facebook page that the crime was “unforgivable”.

“Can you accept abolishing the death penalty (under such circumstances)?” Hung said on Monday. She was elected the KMT leader on Saturday.

This is the second child-killing case in Taiwan in a year.

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