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Sunday, September 11, 2016, 10:54

Homicidal driver ‘caused’ Taiwan bus fire

By Xinhua

Homicidal driver ‘caused’ Taiwan bus fire
In this July 19, 2016 photo, a policeman and another man try to break the windows of a burning tour bus on the side of a highway in Taoyuan, Taiwan. (Yan Cheng / AP)
TAIPEI – The driver of a tour bus that caught fire and left 26 people dead in Taiwan on July 19 was drunken and set fire to the vehicle intentionally, local prosecutors said Saturday.

The man splashed gasoline in the vicinity of the driver's compartment before igniting the bus with a lighter, according to the prosecutors.

After Taiwan authorities confirmed the driver's drunk-driving, arson and murder, a Chinese mainland spokesperson denounced the deadly arson incident.

"We strongly condemn the deliberate vicious criminal case, and express strong indignation over such heartless, inhuman conduct," said a spokesperson of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office.

All the people in the bus, including the driver, were killed when the bus caught fire and crashed into a highway barrier near Taoyuan Airport.

They victims included 23 tourists and a tour guide from the Chinese mainland, the local driver and a local tour guide.

Wang Yi-wen, deputy chief prosecutor of the Taoyuan District Prosecutors Office, told the press that since the nature of the case was defined as murder, the families of the Chinese mainland victims could entrust civil compensation issues to representatives in Taiwan.

According to the prosecutors, the driver, identified as Su Ming-cheng, had a habit of drinking alcohol as well as smoking, and he rarely communicated with the tour guides on his bus.

Su was once detained for a period of 25 days on charge of injuring a tour guide after drinking alcohol. In addition, he was sentenced to five years in prison in a court ruling for rape, though the final verdict was not yet given when the bus fire case took place because he decided to lodge an appeal, according to prosecutors.

It was also found that just before the case happened, Su's family members had talked frequently with him, trying to discourage him from committing a suicide.

Since the incident took place on July 19, the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office has repeatedly urged Taiwan authorities concerned to investigate the cause of the incident and responsibility, and give an explanation to the families of the victims, said the spokesperson, adding the incident and some hurtful words and deeds from the island have had a serious impact on mainland tourists' traveling to Taiwan.

Next, mainland authorities concerned will continue to urge the Taiwan side to well handle the follow-up issues, including compensation, and will provide full assistance to the victims' families in handling related affairs, the spokesperson said on Saturday.

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