Fri, Apr 27, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Top cop not in favor of granting amnesty to serious offenders


National Police Agency Director-General Hou You-yi (侯友宜) said yesterday that he was against granting amnesty or reducing jail terms for prisoners on death row or those convicted of violent crimes.

Hou made the comments during a Legislative Yuan question-and-answer session in response to questions from a group of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers who were concerned that demonstrating leniency would deal a blow to public order and asserted that most rank-and-file policemen were opposed to the idea.

Under instructions from President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), the government recently proposed to reduce prison terms or a partial amnesty for criminals. One of the authorities' arguments in support of the idea was that "the prisons are packed."

Hou said that the agency had not conducted polls to gauge the opinions of grass-roots policemen and said that he would not oppose reduced terms for those convicted of minor offenses carrying a sentence of less than one year.

But Hou added that in his capacity as the police officer in charge of maintaining the rule of law and public order across the country, he would "object" to the proposed amnesty if it were to include those convicted of violent offenses.

"Granting amnesty must not affect public order or social morals," he said, adding that "we would clarify our position and offer recommendations if the there were a chance that the proposed amnesty might affect public order."

At a separate event yesterday, Minister of the Interior Lee Yi-yang (李逸洋) refused to say whether the plan to grant sentence commutations to prison inmates would be implemented on May 20, saying only that all matters in this regard would be conducted in accordance with the law.

The Ministry of Justice said the draft bill would only cut sentences for criminals serving time for minor offenses, adding that it would not commute capital sentences to life sentences or include those convicted of serious crimes and crimes that endanger society.

Crimes involving the sex trade and special financial crimes would also be excluded, it added.

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