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Premier aims for higher rates of conviction in corruption cases

TAIPEI -- Conviction rates in corruption charges took center stage at a Thursday Cabinet meeting, in which Premier Jiang Yi-huah urged prosecutors to exercise greater caution before filing charges to avoid targeting innocent people and “damaging morale.”

Jiang urged better preparation and greater precision in indictments to reduce the “torment” some officials and civil servants face only to be found innocent, noting also that high profile cases have a large impact on public perceptions of the government.

Finance Minister Chang Sheng-ford said morale among civil servants and officials is hurt by what he called a relatively low rate of conviction, citing customs affairs workers in his ministry who have seen their health affected by “misguided” charges.

The view was echoed by Financial Supervisory Commission Chairman Tseng Ming-chung, who alongside Chang took his complaints to a Cabinet meeting that same day.

Tseng acknowledged, though, that the conviction rate has risen over the years thanks to efforts by the Ministry of Justice.

According to a report made by justice officials at the meeting, 75 percent of corruption charges end in conviction, up from the 69.3 percent of 2008.

Jiang recognized the improvement in conviction rates, but noted more needs to be done before Taiwan can compare to other countries.

Tseng contrasted that to Japan's ratio of 99 percent, though he did not cite any sources.

At a press conference after the meeting, Deputy Justice Minister Wu Chen-huan said his ministry has taken steps to ensure prosecutors bring up charges only when there is a high likelihood of conviction in court.

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