Sun, Mar 24, 2013 - Page 8 News List

Detention for murder suspects?

By Wu Ching-chin 吳景欽

Experience would suggest that it is highly improbable that one woman, acting alone, could have committed the double murders in Bali, but this kind of reasoning is not admissible as evidence in a court of law.

It is true that in requesting detention, prosecutors do not need to prove that the facts of the case establish the accused’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt. They only need to provide adequate evidence to show that there are sufficient grounds to strongly suspect that the accused is guilty.

However, when applying for the detention of the accused in the Bali case, prosecutors failed to produce key evidence, such as a murder weapon or bloodstained clothes. They had also found no trace of evidence in the vehicle that they suspected was used to transport the corpses. Perhaps, the prosecutors thought that the contradictory statements of the main suspects, some scraps of paper, or conjecture about what appears to be “obvious,” or rumors are enough to support their case. If so, the evidence will be highly unconvincing, and they will find it very hard to build a case against the accused. This also exposes the bad practice that prosecutors have of detaining suspects first, and then looking for evidence against them.

Based on the principle of the presumption of innocence, detention should not be the first choice for securing the accused and preserving evidence. Rather, it should be the last resort. If such an approach gives some people an opportunity that they can exploit to their own advantage, the blame should not fall on judges, but rather on investigative departments that are not proactive or professional enough, as well as prosecutors who are too hasty and careless about applying for suspects to be placed in detention.

Wu Ching-chin is an assistant professor in the Department of Financial and Economic Law at Aletheia University.

Translated by Drew Cameron

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