A man convicted of killing five family members and a foreign caregiver in an arson attack was executed at the Taipei City Detention Center last night, after being dragged to the execution ground by a bailiff, and the prison administrator, according to reports in Taiwan’s local media.
Lunar New Year’s Eve, February 7, 2016, Weng Ren-xian (翁仁賢), then 50, took advantage of the annual family gathering at their home in Longtan District, Taoyuan City, to inflict maximum damage on a family he felt had slighted and belittled him.
Weng, who was unemployed, and had a history of failed business ventures, including raising chickens, and breeding dogs, all financed by his parents and older brother, purchased a quantity of gasoline, which he distributed into smaller containers in preparation for the crime.
After 16 family and friends gathered in the small dining room and were half-way through the traditional Lunar New Year’s evening meal, Weng poured gasoline around the yard outside the only direct exit from the dining room.
As Weng went to the second floor to get more gasoline, a few of the family members, alerted to the smell of gasoline, and suspecting that one of the parked cars had a fuel leak, went outside to investigate.
Weng then went downstairs to the dining room and splashed gasoline around, including directly on his elderly parents, before lighting some newspaper and igniting the fuel.
Six people died in the ensuing blaze, and five were injured. Among the dead were Weng’s mother, father, a niece, a nephew, the nephew’s wife, and a foreign domestic helper employed to take care of his elderly parents.
Weng, having suffered burns to his face, went on the run until he was arrested five days later.
During his subsequent interrogations, and court hearings, Weng showed no remorse, apologizing only for the death of his parents’ carer. For the death of his family members, Weng had no regrets, vowing to pursue the surviving family members, and hunt them down even when he is a ghost in the afterlife, and in his next six reincarnations.
During his court hearings, trial, and sentencing, Weng hurled insults at the judges, telling them that they were unqualified, and were “Dinosaur judges” – an appellation popularly used by the public and media to describe judges who give lenient sentences to violent criminals.
Weng even used English to curse the judges: “F##k You” and “F##ck your mother,” Weng frequently told them.
For media covering the case, Weng offered sneers and his middle finger for the cameras.
Around one year to the day after his arrest, the Taoyuan District Court determined that Weng should be sentenced to death. As required by law, the case then went to the Supreme Court, who upheld the decision, and sentenced Weng to death July 10, 2019.
Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥) signed the order for the execution yesterday, April 1. Under the order, Weng was to be executed at 8:00 pm, the same day.
When Weng was informed that his execution was due to be carried out, he became nervous. Weng at first refused a last meal. “I only want to smoke,” Weng said.
After Weng had smoked four cigarettes, he then requested a last meal, ordering poached eggs, braised pork belly, fried chicken, and beer.
But Weng, who had sometimes sat on the floor of the court during his trials, refusing to stand before the judge, was unwilling to walk to the place of execution, and had to be dragged to the spot by the bailiff and the detention center administrator.
Weng then refused the forensic doctor’s offer of an anesthetic shot. “I want to witness my own death,” Weng boldly announced. “Not like Zheng Jie, who was too scared,” referring to a previous death row inmate who was executed May 10, 2016 for the fatal stabbings of four random strangers on the Taipei Metro in 2014.
After persuasion, Weng finally agreed to be anesthetized before the execution.
After being administered the anesthetic and losing consciousness, Weng was laid face down on the ground. The forensic doctor used a stethoscope to locate the exact position of Weng’s heart. At 8:38 pm, the executioner fired a shot to the heart through the back.
After checking for vital signs, a second shot was fired at 8:39 pm.
Weng was declared dead at 8:58 pm.
Weng’s last request had been for his surviving family members to take care of his body: but his older brother refused to have anything to do with it, and the body was sent to a municipal government funeral home in Taoyuan City.
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