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A Milestone in the 110th Year of the Judiciary

Posted May. 01, 2007 03:04,   


The trial system conducted by professional judicial officers, maintained for 110 years from the adoption of the modern judiciary system, is about to undergo fundamental changes.

The National Assembly held a general meeting on April 30 and passed an enactment bill regarding the participation of the national public in a criminal trial, the basis of which is to involve the national public as jury members within the boundaries of some cases involving heavy crimes. This bill will be enforced from January 1, 2008, and the decision on its expansion will be made in 2013 after a five-year probationary term.

At the general meeting on the same day, the National Assembly also passed an amendment bill on the Criminal Procedure Law which expands the eligibility of applications for arbitration to all litigated cases and makes the practical examination of arrest warrants mandatory for all defendants. The Criminal Procedure Law, enacted in 1954, will go through overall changes through this amendment, and is expected to bring large-scale changes in the criminal judicature, including procedures of investigation and trial.

But the bill to adopt the law school system failed to be passed by the National Assembly again as each party discussed the matter in relation to the re-amendment of the private school law and the amendment of the national pension law.

The newly adopted system for national participation in criminal trials will apply only to cases of murder, robbery, rape, robbery and rape homicide, and crimes related to bribes, and only when the defendant wishes such applications. 7-9 ordinary civilians will attend the trial as jury members and give opinions on guilty/innocent decisions and the severity of punishment in the latter case. But the opinion of the jury will only have advisory effects that lack enforcement power.

The investigation body should apprise the defendant of the right to contact and see a lawyer and to reject making statements, and the lawyer will be allowed to participate in the course of examination and questioning so as to raise objections or make statements in case inappropriate questioning occurs.

The investigation body will be prohibited from limiting the right to contact and see a lawyer regardless of whether or not the defendant is arrested or imprisoned, excluding extremely exceptional cases.

The structure of the trial will also be changed so that the defendant is seated beside the lawyer facing the prosecutor from the opposite side.

Interrogations by the police which lacked admissibility of evidence and interrogations by the prosecution that lacked admissibility of evidence when the defendant denied the facts in the interrogation will be acknowledged as evidence in case the police officer or the prosecutor presents himself/herself to the trial and testifies.

In addition, the victim of a crime will be allowed to bring with him or her a trusted person, such as a family member or a representative.