Tue, Feb 25, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Prosecutors urged to aid crackdown

PEP TALK In an unprecedented meeting, State Public Prosecutor General Lu Ren-fam urged officials to work together to make sure offenders are brought to justice

CNA , TAIPEI

The State Public Prosecutor General's Office called a meeting of chief prosecutors from around the country yesterday to seek their support for the government's new campaign to improve public order and eradicate criminal rings.

It was the first time that the nation's highest prosecution authority has called such a meeting.

State Public Prosecutor General Lu Ren-fa (盧仁發) said the meeting was aimed at discussing feasible measures to lower the crime rate in line with the Cabinet's new anti-crime drive, dubbed the "security-keeping project."

As part of the project, Minister of the Interior Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲) promised last week to resign if his goal of "zero growth" in the crime rate is not reached over the next three months.

Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) also announced that he will step down if the prosecutors cannot indict at least 50 organized crime-related cases and 1,000 drug trafficking-related cases by the end of May.

However, Chen's announcement prompted a backlash from some prosecutors who pointed out that setting a quota will only hurt the credibility of their office.

In an effort to allay junior prosecutors' worries, Lu said at the meeting that his office will not set any quotas.

"The prosecutors just need to do their utmost," Lu said.

Nevertheless, he claimed it would not be difficult for prosecutors to indict suspects involved in at least 50 organized crime-related cases before May 31, so long as they work closely with police and investigative agents on the 300-plus cases pending investigation.

He urged all prosecutors to speed up their investigations into existing cases.

"If evidence is already available, you should indict the suspects as soon as possible. If no convincing evidence is available, you should close the case to clear the names of the accused," he said.

Lu demanded that the Public Prosecutors' Office of the Taiwan High Court and its branches check the progress of district courts under their jurisdiction each month.

He also urged district prosecutors' offices to cooperate with local police and Investigation Bureau branches in criminal investigations to avoid wasting resources.

He also asked prosecutors to seek the assistance of tax offices in investigating whether companies operated by suspicious people have broken any tax laws.

Prosecutors should also attend all court hearings on cases involving criminal syndicates to ensure that justice is served, Lu said.

Chen, who also attended the opening session of the one-day meeting to boost the morale of prosecutors, said he hopes that law-enforcement officers will conduct spot checks on at least 10,000 suspected drug hideouts and indict suspects in 1,000 drug-related cases.

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