Taipei: Taiwan has carried out a death sentence for the first time since 2005, executing four inmates as a heated debate rages on the island over whether capital punishment should be abolished.
Newly-appointed Justice Minister Tseng Yung-fu signed the execution orders on Friday, a departure from the stance of the ministry`s former chief, who had insisted she would never allow an execution to take place while in charge.
The four men executed yesterday had been convicted of "grave offences such as fatal kidnappings and murders" and their sentences had been confirmed by court authorities at various levels, the ministry said in a statement.
The four were shot in the back by a firing squad, officials said.
Pai Ping-ping, an outspoken campaigner for keeping capital punishment and whose daughter was kidnapped and killed several years ago, hailed the execution as belated justice.
"For those who had committed such brutal acts in cold blood, they were given too humane a treatment with the executions," she said.
Lin Hsin-yi, an official with an alliance working to abolish capital punishment, said the executions should not have been carried out because the men had expressed remorse for the crimes they had committed.
Taiwan still has about 40 inmates on death row.