A student of Kaohsiung Medical University faced the first day of trial proceedings, yesterday, October 9, for the murder of an 80-year-old man who died in a park last year after being shocked with a stun gun, and doused with hydrofluoric acid.
On the morning of July 7, 2018, the 18-year-old student named Lin, on summer vacation between graduating from high school and starting medical studies, went to a pavilion in a park at the Kaohsiung Cultural Center, to practice fire dancing.
According to evidence presented to the Kaohsiung District Court, Lin had an altercation with an 80-year-old man named Fu, who was practicing tai chi in the pavilion. Lin pushed Fu to the ground, causing the elderly man to suffer a head injury.
Witnesses reported the incident to police, and while Fu recovered after receiving medical treatment, and refused to press charges, police fined Lin NT$3,000 for his violent act, which breached the Maintenance of Social Order law.
Lin appears to have suffered a loss of face from the incident, and after stewing in his ignominy for more than a month, purchased hydrofluoric acid from a chemical supply store.
Lin told the storekeeper that he intended to use the potentially deadly chemical for a school experiment.
Lin then returned to the pavilion where Fu practiced tai chi on the morning of August 21, and attacked Fu with an electric shock stick. While Fu was writhing on the ground, Lin poured hydrofluoric acid on the old man’s chest, back, neck, and face.
According to the evidence presented to the court, Fu struggled around 100 meters to a sidewalk on Heping Road before collapsing. A witness described finding Fu collapsed, conscious, but with his nose running, and eyes streaming tears. Fu was rushed to hospital, but declared dead shortly after.
In the meantime, while Lin was pouring the acid onto his victim, he had also inadvertently splashed some of the substance onto his own thigh. Lin made his way to a hospital.
Lin, the aspiring medical student, told medical personnel that he had had an accident while conducting an experiment with hydrofluoric acid. Lin was hospitalized for 8 days.
An autopsy on Mr Fu raised suspicions after it was found that Fu had died of organ failure due to poisoning by hydrofluoric acid, with acid burns to 35 percent of his body.
A police investigation led to a search of Lin’s residence, September 5, 2018, where investigators found an electric shock stick, and receipts for the purchase of hydrofluoric acid. Police also learned about Lin’s hospital treatment for hydrofluoric acid injuries.
Lin admitted that he had purchased the hydrofluoric acid to “teach the old man a lesson,” because he was angry at the time, but did not know that the substance would result in the man’s death.
Lin’s high school teachers expressed surprise and shock that Lin could be responsible for such an act, as he had “very good grades.” However, in the third year of high school, Lin had begun to take days off, and was eventually registered as a “special needs” student.
According to media reports accessed by Taiwan English News, Lin was not detained after the investigation, but went on to study at Kaohsiung Medical University. Lin is certified as having a disability. Kaohsiung Medical University told media this morning that Lin is a student at the college with a normal performance, but is also a special care student.
A spokesperson for Kaohsiung Medical University pointed out that the incident had occurred before Lin began his studies at the university, and that upon Lin’s enrollment, the school had set up a “multi-faceted” counseling group including faculty leaders, a tutor, a group of counselors, psychologists, and security staff, to maintain campus safety, and help Lin to adapt to university life.
In the first day of Lin’s trial proceedings today, the prosecution argued that Lin should have known that hydrofluoric acid would lead to chronic poisoning and death, while the defense argued that Lin is suspected of suffering emotional disorders which may have affected his discernment while committing the crime.
As such, the defense argued for a reduced sentence.
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