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Delayed trial infringes upon defenders’ rights

Following the documentary bills scandal of First Commercial Bank that erupted in 1979, the Taipei District Court reached a verdict on the first instance on January 12th, 1980, finding three defendants guilty. The case took a different turn after the twelfth instance, in which the three defendants were found not guilty. At one point prior to the twelfth instance, Prosecutor Lu filed an appeal with a higher court without giving any reason. Prosecutor Lu was requested to resubmit the reasons in writing within a limited timeframe. However, it was two hundred days later when the prosecutor finally submitted his reasons for appeal. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court was forced to postpone the trial, because key documents were held up at the Prosecutor’s Office of the Taiwan High Court after being sent there at Prosecutor Lu’s prior request. The case dragged on for twenty-eight years and six months and infringed upon the defendants’ rights to justice and freedom. (Case no. 0970800214)

The Control Yuan’s investigation found multiple administrative errors made by the Taiwan High Court and the Supreme Court. The Taiwan High Court had failed to investigate the cause behind the Supreme Court’s repeated reversal of the original judgment. As such, the same fact was repeatedly remanded by the Supreme Court, delaying the lawsuit. Similarly, the case was repeatedly sent back with different instructions for each remand to the lower court, because the Supreme Court failed to thoroughly review the document and identify flawed data provided in the attachment before the trial. The twenty-eight-year lawsuit was not only an infringement upon the defendant’s “right to timely jurisdiction”; it was also damage to the defendant’s body, freedom, property and honor, thereby violating Articles 8, 16 and 23 of due process as enshrined in the Constitution, as well as the right to stand trial and proportionality. The original court gave as much as eighteen orders to extend detention, citing Paragraph 4, Article 76 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (arrest of felons) as legal basis, despite an absence of facts to justify extended detention. (The defendants displayed no attempts to escape or conspire with a co-offender or witness.) Moreover, the original court’s failure to verify evidence before rejecting the defendant’s application to terminate detention violated international human rights norms.

For the purpose of upholding the “right to timely jurisdiction,” the Control Yuan urged the Judicial Yuan and the Ministry of Justice to modify the current system by drawing reference from international human rights norms, judgments, decisions and opinions given by the European Court of Human Rights, and legislation in countries around the world.