Wed, Mar 29, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Prosecutors back new statute of limitations rules

MURDER MOTIVE:The CIB said that the proposal would provide a means for police units to pursue and apprehend criminals, and achieve improved results

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Prosecutors and legal experts yesterday expressed support for a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) proposal backed by the Ministry of Justice to scrap the statute of limitations for murder and other major crimes by amending the Criminal Code.

Kaoshiung Deputy Chief District Prosecutor Wang Chih-ming (王?明) said the move would introduce “substantive justice” to the system and bring criminal prosecutions closer to practices in advanced democracies.

“For serious crimes where human lives were taken — such as murder, acts of war or atrocities against groups of people — many countries have no statute of limitations,” Wang said.

A clause must be added to the amendment to permit retroactive application of the proposed amendment to investigations and prosecutions, enabling law enforcement agencies to pursue justice and try suspects, he said.

Wang dismissed concerns that such a move would increase the workload for prosecutors’ offices and investigative units.

“Identifying suspects and issuing bulletins for their arrest means the investigation phase has been completed, while charges are filed by submitting a case report,” he said.

“However, suspects are apprehended by police on the streets, through raids, or after being arrested on separate charges. The prosecution can pick up from there,” he said.

Wang said that evidence gathering and questioning of witnesses should have already been done during the investigation phase, so doing away with the statute of limitations for major crimes should not create more work for prosecutors.

Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) officials also welcomed the DPP proposal, saying the bureau is the nation’s main law enforcement agency, tasked with combating crime, investigating criminal activity, tracking down suspects and providing support to judicial authorities.

“This initiative would provide a means for police units to pursue and apprehend criminals, and achieve better results,” the bureau said in a statement. “We agree with the proposed amendments to the Criminal Code to remove time limits for charges in cases of murder and major economic crimes. It will help serve justice and uphold public safety.”

Bureau Deputy Director Huang Chia-lu (黃嘉祿) said that the agency would not give up its efforts to re-examine evidence in two of the nation’s most prominent unsolved crimes — the execution-style killing of then-Taoyuan county commissioner Liu Pang-yu (劉邦友) and six other people at his residence on Nov. 21, 1996, and the rape and murder of then-director of the DPP’s Women’s Affairs Department Peng Wan-ru (彭婉如) in Kaohsiung County on Nov. 30, 1996.

The two cases shocked the nation, with Liu and Peng — high-profile names in political circles at the time — meeting brutal ends.

The 20-year statute of limitations on those cases prompted calls by the public and legislators to amend the regulations, who said justice needs to be served regardless of any delay.

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