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Taiwan: Woman sentenced to life in prison over fire that killed 46

#Taiwan #Woman #sentenced #life #prison #fire #killed

A Taiwanese woman who started the island’s deadliest fire in decades to get back at her boyfriend escaped the death penalty on Friday when the court handed down a life sentence.

Last October’s inferno in the southern city of Kaohsiung raged for hours through several floors of a run-down 13-story apartment block, killing 46 people and injuring 41.

Authorities said the fire started when defendant Huang Ke-ke, 51, left unextinguished incense ash on a sofa before exiting the building.

Huang was charged with murder and arson in January and prosecutors ordered her execution.

Prosecutors said she set the fire on purpose to “embarrass” her boyfriend, whom she suspected of fraud, and showed no remorse for her actions.

Kaohsiung District Court on Friday sentenced Huang to life imprisonment for arson and negligence causing death.

“The defendant had no motive to harm other occupants of the building … the murder offense was not established because she did not intentionally” cause the deaths, the court said in a statement.

Huang admitted to lighting sandalwood incense sticks to ward off mosquitoes. However, according to prosecutors, she made conflicting statements about what she had done before leaving her room.

She initially claimed she threw the incense in a trash can, but later said she couldn’t remember what she did.

The fire highlighted concerns about lax safety standards in Taiwan and exposed the poor living conditions of the elderly in a rapidly aging society.

The public prosecutor’s office announced that it would appeal the verdict.

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