Woman Set Off Fire To “Embarrass Boyfriend”, Kills 46, Gets Life Sentence
A Taiwanese woman ignited the island’s deadliest fire in decades to reunite with her boyfriend who escaped the death penalty on Friday when a court sentenced him to life in prison.
Inferno last October in the southern Chinese city of Kaohsiung raged through several floors of a dilapidated 13-story apartment complex for hours, killing 46 people and injuring 41.
Authorities say the fire started when the defendant Huang Ke-ke, 51, left ashes and incense unburnt on a sofa before leaving the building.
Huang was indicted on murder and arson charges in January, with prosecutors seeking her execution.
Prosecutors said she purposely lit the fire to “embarrass” her boyfriend, who she suspected of cheating, and showed no remorse for her actions.
The Kaohsiung District Court on Friday convicted Huang of arson and negligence leading to death and sentenced her to life in prison.
“The defendant had no incentive to cause damage to other occupants of the building … the murder charge is not valid because she did not knowingly” cause the death, the court said in a statement.
Huang admitted to burning incense with sandalwood to repel mosquitoes. But she made inconsistent statements about what she did before leaving her room, according to prosecutors.
She initially claimed she threw the incense in the barrel, but later said she couldn’t remember what she did.
The fire highlights concerns about lax safety standards in Taiwan and poor living conditions for the elderly in a rapidly aging society.
Prosecutors said they would appeal the ruling.
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