Fri, Jun 22, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Court, prosecutors argue over burden of proof law

Staff writer, with CNA

The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office disagreed with the Supreme Court on Wednesday on a controversial court resolution that says judges are only obliged to investigate evidence favorable to the accused.

The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office said in a press release that the resolution contravenes the intent of the law governing burden of proof, saying that the court’s limited interpretation of the law is tantamount to a de facto revision.

It also ignores the main purpose of the Code of Criminal Procedure (刑事訴訟法), which is to “find the truth,” adding that whether evidence is favorable or unfavorable to the accused cannot be known until after it has been investigated, the office said.

The office said that it had taken stock of the intent of the legislation and also collected opinions from all sides before presenting its views to the Supreme Court.

The polemic resolution was reached by the Supreme Court earlier this year and stated that judges should, in principle, only investigate evidence favorable to the accused and that prosecutors should shoulder all responsibility for submitting such evidence. If the evidence produced is insufficient, the accused would be ruled innocent.

Wu Hsun-Lung (吳巡龍), a prosecutor from the Penghu District Prosecutors’ Office, staged a sit-in in front of the Supreme Court on June 4 to protest against the resolution, which he said has “greatly lessened the burden on judges.”

According to Wu, no judges in any other country have been restricted from investigating evidence unfavorable to the accused.

He also said that according to the Code of Criminal Procedure, court judges are obliged to investigate all the evidence submitted — unfavorable or favorable — relating to the accused, so as to maintain judicial impartiality and fairness.

After Wu’s sit-in, which received an enthusiastic response from his colleagues, Prosecutor-General Huang Shih-ming (黃世銘) suggested to Yang Ting-chang (楊鼎章), president of the Supreme Court, that a seminar should be convened so that judges, prosecutors and academics could fully discuss the issue and resolve their differences.

The suggestion was rejected.

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