A Taiwanese woman who set the island’s deadliest fire in decades to get her boyfriend back escaped the death penalty on Friday as a court sentenced her to life in prison.
Last October, riots raged for hours through several floors of a dilapidated 13-story apartment block in the southern city of Kaohsiung, killing 46 people and injuring 41.
Authorities said the fire started when the 51-year-old defendant, Huang Ke-ke, left ashes of incense sticks on a sofa before leaving the building.
Huang was indicted in January on charges of murder and arson, with prosecutors seeking his execution.
Prosecutors said she deliberately set fire to “embarrassment” 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 death sentence by negligence and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
“The defendant did not have a motive to cause harm to other residents in the building … the offense of murder did not arise because he did not intentionally cause death,” the court said in a statement.
Huang admitted to burning sandalwood incense to ward off mosquitoes. But according to prosecutors, he made inconsistent statements on what he did before leaving his room.
He initially claimed that he threw the incense in a bin, but later said he did not remember what he did.
The fire highlighted concerns over lax safety standards in Taiwan and the poor living conditions of the elderly in a rapidly aging society.
Prosecutors said they would appeal the decision.
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