Plea against corruption
The Justice Ministry in recent report to the president recommended that the country introduce a conditional plea agreement system as a part of efforts to root out corruption in public services.
The Prosecutors’ Office has long sought to instigate plea bargaining in corruption cases where prosecutors can offer the accused the opportunity to plead guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence or a reduced charge.
In a speech commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Prosecutors’ Office on Oct. 30 Prosecutor-general Lim Chai-jin had already expressed his determination to seek a plea bargaining system in order to facilitate cases against corrupt public officials.
The Justice Ministry has come to agree with the Prosecutors’ Office on the need for the system, as testimonies have become vital in bribery cases with crimes becoming more and more sophisticated.
Because evidence is hard to obtain in bribery cases, prosecutors depend primarily on a defendant’s confession, which often changes during the course of an actual trial.
The plea bargaining system allows prosecutors to expedite cases for which they already have confessions and focus their energies on finding undiscovered truths. The system should help fight rampant corruption in public offices.
Statistics show nine out of 10 criminal cases in the United States are solved through plea bargaining.
Initiating the system puts us in the right direction as we move to adopt styles typical of the U.S. and British courts and public jury system.
But we need to tailor the system to fit our courts as there are downsides.
For instance, the prosecutor’s power must be strictly limited to prevent prosecutors from coercing the accused or distorting facts to produce the desired outcome.
The courts need to scrutinize the entire process, from getting statements to deciding upon a sentence.
They also need a faculty to prevent defendants who receive the same criminal charges from getting different sentences. We need to go over this and other aspects at a public hearing before approving this new judicial system, which is closely associated with the people’s freedom.