Connect to share and comment

Double jeopardy: presumed guilty

Part IV: The most outspoken of the Hsichih Three, Su Chien-ho, describes torture in detention.

She noted that the Innocence Project and others have documented wrongful convictions in the United States. (Since 1973, 138 people have been released from death row in the United States because of evidence they were innocent, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.) "But in Taiwan, we don't have this kind of information. Our legal system doesn't recognize that we even have these kinds of cases."

Lin said support for the death penalty had also been high in countries like France, Germany and Canada. But after the death penalty was abolished, support rates plunged.

What's more, 53 percent of Taiwanese are willing to accept a life sentence without the possibility of parole as a substitute for the death penalty, she said.

“The death penalty is often imposed after a grossly unfair trial,” wrote Amnesty International. “But even when trials respect international standards of fairness, the risk of executing the innocent can never be fully eliminated — the death penalty will inevitably claim innocent victims.”

In short, says Amnesty and other rights groups, the death penalty too often compounds the suffering of the original crime with the horror of executing an innocent man. That’s not justice, they say. It’s human sacrifice.

Read more from Double jeopardy:

Part I: a look at the death penalty in Asia

Part II: victims' families seek justice

Part III: trend toward abolition

Part V: matter of "face"