A claim by Taiwan Jury Association chairman Chang Ching (張靜) that up to 10 percent of the nation’s judiciary are corrupt has triggered angry condemnations from the Judicial Yuan, the Ministry of Justice and the Taiwan Bar Association, while sparking widespread debate.
Chang, a former prosecutor and judge, wrote in a letter published on Saturday by Up Media, an online platform, that between 5 and 10 percent of judges and prosecutors had accepted bribes, and insinuated that rulings have been influenced by corruption.
The Judicial Yuan, the ministry and the bar association all issued statements protesting Chang’s remarks, demanding that he provide evidence to support his claims and calling on him to resign as a member of one of the Presidential Office’s preparatory committee for judicial reform’s subcommittees.
Chang on Monday said that corruption has harmed the judicial system and he knew firsthand of the problem because of his many decades working inside the system.
“I was trained in law and received further training at judicial schools, then passed the qualification exams to become a prosecutor in 1981,” Chang said.
“I later qualified to become a judge, and then after retiring [from government service], I worked as an attorney. I have close to 37 years working in the judicial system,” he said.
His claim that between 5 and 10 percent of judges and prosecutors have taken bribes was based on his experience and he has evidence to back his claim, he said.
“Why would the Judicial Yuan demand that I present evidence? The onus is not on me to have evidence, it should conduct an investigation. It is not for a lawyer to investigate this problem,” Chang said.
“After publishing that letter, people said to me that I was talking rubbish. They asked how it is possible that such a small number of people were taking bribes. Some people believed my figure was too low and the proportion of corrupt judiciary officials is much higher,” he said.
“I raised this issue to push for a 12-member jury system in the criminal justice system. This is the way to root out corruption, so there is no way to bribe a judge. It also reduces the incidents of unfair decisions and of rulings which do not conform to society’s expectations,” he said.
“We cannot promise that a jury system can resolve all the problems and we cannot rule out the chance that jurors could be bribed, but it is far easier to bribe a judge than to bribe 12 jurors. Jurors are dismissed after a trial is over and there is no chance of them becoming a regular fixture in the courts,” Chang said.
New Taipei City prosecutor Chiang Chang-chih (姜長志) backed Chang in an opinion piece published yesterday, in which he said that it is time to deal with corruption by presenting evidence and restoring public trust in the judiciary.
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