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Military finishes transfer of inmates to civilian prisons

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's military has completed its mission to transfer all military prisoners to civilian prisons around the country yesterday as part of an overhaul in the nation's court martial system.

According to Ministry of National Defense (MND) figures, 65 inmates who were serving their sentences at the country's only military prison in the southern city of Tainan were successfully transferred to civilian prisons around noon yesterday.

Most of them are serving jail terms for driving under the influence of alcohol or for using narcotics, the MND said.

Another nine suspects who are being held in custody at two military detention centers in Taoyuan and Kaohsiung pending further investigations were also successfully transferred to civilian detention centers in several different jurisdictions.

The latest large-scale prison transfer means the MND has accomplished its mission to transfer all military prisoners to civilian jails in accordance with the country's revisions to the Code of Court Martial Procedure, made last August.

The military has already relocated 243 military prisoners to 11 civilian prisons last August in the first phase of reform for the country's court martial system.

The completion of inmate relocation also means Tainan Military Prison and two military detention centers in Taoyuan and Kaohsiung have officially become history.

Aside from having military prisoners transferred to civilian prisons, the MND yesterday also handed around 150 cases involving military personnel currently awaiting trial by military courts to civilian courts.

The changes are made in accordance with the revised court martial code, which cleared the Legislative floor on Aug. 6, 2013 and which stipulates that all military servicemembers will be subject to the civilian justice system during peacetime.

The system overhaul has been made in two stages.

Immediately following the president's signing off on amendments on Aug. 15, 2013, cases involving the abuse of subordinates, illegal punishment, murder, sexual assault, robbery or illicit drugs were transferred to civilian prosecutors and courts for further investigation.

Other cases involving military personnel would not be handled by civilian prosecutors and courts until five months after the amendment passed. The date was set for Jan. 13, 2014.

Military Prosecutors and Judges' New Job

Meanwhile, a total of 246 military prosecutors and judges are now being reassigned to troops around the country to offer legal services and education to military personnel in the wake of the reform.

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A prison van boarded with military prisoners is seen driving away from the front gate of Tainan Military Prison in the southern city of Tainan, yesterday. The military reported yesterday that it had completed the transfer of all military prisoners to civilian prisons.

(CNA)

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