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US-Style Witness Protection Program to Start

Posted November. 25, 2009 08:47,   


The Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday that it will introduce a domestic version of the U.S. Federal Witness Protection Program.

The plan is to set up safety houses and hire bodyguards for witnesses and victims and their relatives, and establish new identifies for them or even change their nationalities.

To create new identities, the personal data of witnesses or their family members will be deleted. They will receive new identities, jobs and housing, have the right to acquire other nationalities, and get help in changing their appearance through plastic surgery or other methods.

Prosecutors conducted case studies of witness protection in other countries, including those in the U.S. and Germany, after forming a task force in June. They concluded that lack of witness protection for witnesses or victims who testify against organized crime rings or those committing felonies makes it hard to fight crime.

A Justice Ministry report to the National Assembly said the number of people accused of taking retaliation against their witnesses increased from 75 in 2006 to 144 in 2007 and 162 last year.

Most retaliatory crimes were revenge taken against witnesses for tipping off police or forcing victims of sexual crimes to reach settlements with their assailants.