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Proposal adopted to amend law to prevent convicts from fleeing

2012/05/02 18:38:03

Taipei, May 2 (CNA) The Judicial Yuan, Taiwan's highest judicial organ, approved a proposal Wednesday to revise the law governing criminal procedure to prevent convicts like former independent lawmaker Lo Fu-chu from running away before beginning their jail terms.

The proposal by the Ministry of Justice to amend the Code of Criminal Procedure says prosecutors should be given the right to immediately detain convicts who are sentenced to two years or more so that there is no gap between sentencing and the start of the actual prison term.

The amendment, however, does not cover a proposal to allow electronic monitoring of convicts preparing to start their sentences, as well as suspects or defendants who have been released on bail.

Also excluded from the amendment is a proposal to detain defendants who have been found guilty in district courts but who can still appeal to higher courts.

According to Judicial Yuan officials, the latter proposal was shelved out of concern for the possibility that it could harm defendants' human rights.

As for the proposed electronic monitoring, the officials explained that this was not included because such a measure would involve various administrative authorities.

The draft amendment was brought up after Lo failed to report to prosecutors April 23 to begin serving a four-year prison sentence for stock manipulation, document forgery and money laundering.

He was convicted in March by the Supreme Court and had not been seen in public for nearly a month, indicating the possibility that he had gone into hiding. Prosecutors believe the widely known convict has fled the country and have placed him on the country's wanted list.

The statute of limitations will not run out in Lo's case until December 2030, by which time he will be 87, prosecutors said.

By failing to show up to start his prison term, Lo also forfeited his NT$10 million (US$339,000) bail bond.

Under the current system, prosecutors have to summon convicted individuals who are not in detention at the time of sentencing. If they fail to report to start their sentences, the court then issues an arrest warrant.

The amendment bill will be referred via the Executive Yuan to the Legislative Yuan and if passed, will allow prosecutors to immediately imprison those convicted in major criminal cases or cases that have attracted widespread public attention.

Lo, a controversial figure, was imprisoned for more than three years in 1984 for his ties to the Celestial Way organized crime gang and detained again in 2002 for four months for suspected fraud and embezzlement.

He was elected as a legislator in 1996 and was re-elected to another term in 1999.

(By Tsai Pei-chi and Elizabeth Hsu)