Taiwan court upholds life sentence for man over ‘pickled head’ murder

TAIPEI, April 30 — Taiwan’s top court today upheld a life sentence handed down to a man who murdered his sister and pickled her head in a gruesome crime that shocked the island.

Chen Chia-fu, 39, was arrested and later indicted on suspicion of murdering and dismembering his sister in 2012 for an insurance payout of around US$200,000 (RM712,200). Prosecutors had sought the death penalty saying that Chen showed no remorse.

A district court in 2014 sentenced him to life in prison on the grounds that he had no prior criminal record and grew up in an “abnormal” family with a history of violence and mental disorders.

Both prosecutors and Chen, who had pleaded not guilty, appealed to the high court over the ruling, and then the supreme court, which both maintained the previous sentencing. 

“The court rejected the appeal due to insufficient reason for the defendant’s claim of a lack of evidence to convict him of murder,” the supreme court said in a statement, adding that it also disagreed with prosecutors’ request for a death sentence, who had earlier argued “there is no chance and no need to reform” Chen.

The “pickled head case” came to light in March 2013 after police in southern Chiayi county received a note claiming that the body of the woman, who had been missing since December 2012, was in a public toilet near a temple. It also asked for a “proper burial” for her.

The note, which led to the discovery of her head, became critical evidence as the writing matched Chen’s, prosecutors said. The rest of the victim’s body is yet to be located.

Chen was arrested after police found surveillance footage showing him with bags carrying unidentified objects in Chiayi.

He was also found to have bought at least four insurance policies for the 36-year-old woman, according to prosecutors.

The police suspected Chen of taking a train from Taipei, where the siblings lived, to southern Taiwan possibly to dispose of her head in a secure location. — AFP

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