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Tue, May 23, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Justice minister dodges confirmation of HK trip

LOOKING AROUND Chen Ding-nan did not deny reports he had been to Hong Kong where he allegedly met with members of that city's anti-corruption bureau

By Jou Ying-cheng  /  STAFF REPORTER

The new Minister of Justice, Chen Ding-nan (陳定南), declined to comment on foreign media reports, but did not deny that he traveled to Hong Kong last week before the presidential inauguration.

"Given the difficulties Taiwan is confronted with in diplomacy, any official contacts in countries we have no official diplomatic relations with are not to be publicly explained," he said at a press conference yesterday.

The Hong Kong Sing Tao Daily reported yesterday that the Minister of Justice flew to Hong Kong for a three-hour stay last Wednesday.

Chen added, however, that at the time he was not a governmental official because he did not assume office until May 20.

While reports had mentioned that Chen may have met with Hong Kong's Independent Commission against Corruption, Chen only said he had been to several countries to collect information before his appointment.

"I have been willing to see and collect any information relevant to the works of the justice ministry in several countries before I assumed office," he said.

Chen Ding-nan has been advocating the establishment of an anti-corruption bureau largely derived from Hong Kong's model.

During the press conference Chen also spoke of future policies, suggesting that the terms of the state public prosecutor general and public prosecutor general for the Taiwan High Court be shortened to two years.

Currently chief prosecutors for district courts have a four-year term and the state public prosecutor general and public prosecutor general do not have fixed terms.

"I hope that everyone qualified can have a chance to experience the job of prosecutor general. By this system I hope everyone can get used to the idea that is common for the state public prosecutor general -- who is at the top of the prosecution system -- to return to being a prosecutor, just like a university president becomes a professor again after his or her term ends," Chen said.

Chen also proposed the establishment of three special prosecutors' offices in northern, central, and southern Taiwan dedicated to handling more serious crimes.

The point of a special prosecutors' office is based on the fact that the investigation of some crimes such as white collar crime, organized crime, and drug dealing, involves a lot of time and effort and the use of professional techniques and therefore needs the special application of criminal justice resources, Chen said.

"The special prosecutors' offices would consist of outstanding prosecutors -- primarily from district and courts and the High Court -- that will be equipped with selected judicial police officers, including police, investigators and military police. And there could be different compositions for different tasks." Chen said.

Chen stressed that the special prosecutors' offices would be ad hoc task forces rather than statutory organizations. He also said that a schedule for the establishment of the special prosecutors' offices had not been made yet.

The unofficial Prosecutors' Reform Association (檢察官改革協會) has suggested the founding of special prosecutors' offices, but as a temporary alternative to Chen's proposed anti-corruption bureau.

Chen also agreed to raise the current 20-year maximum non-life sentence. Currently punishment for any crime which does not carry a life sentence cannot exceed 20 years.

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