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Drafters hear opinions on new law to fight corruption

Mar 01. 2017
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By The Nation

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The Constitution Drafting Commission (CDC) on Wednesday held a public discussion over a new organic law on criminal procedures for holders of political offices, aiming to improve the efficiency in dealing with corrupt politicians.

CDC chairman Meechai Ruchupan said at the forum that he would like to hear from the participants about three major issues. 

One was whether or not the process of judgement should continue regardless of the absence of defendants. Meechai said defendants of corruption cases could have lawyers represent them. The practice would not put him at a disadvantage because it was the same as in normal cases where the lawyers had to advocate the accused, the veteran barrister explained.

Two other points he raised at the forum involved how to improve the speed of the legal procedure while maintaining justice, and the possibility of separating minor defendants from corruption cases where the masterminds could not be found that resulted in the cases being dropped. This proposal could allow minor defendants to fight their cases in a normal court.

At the discussion, Meechai also explained that the CDC was attempting to improve the organic law by imposing an inquisitorial system rather than the current accusatorial system for a speed advantage. 

However, he said corruption cases should focus more on what was right for the country, rather than on who won or lost the cases. In addition, the CDC would also try to impose the same practice on the Constitutional Court.

The draft organic law on criminal procedures for holders of political offices has 71 articles. There are at least three unprecedented clauses in the new legislation.

Article 31 says that once a lawsuit is accepted, court shall not allow withdrawal of the case, except for when it affects the justice system. The prescription, according to Article 33, excludes the defendant’s absconding period.

Articles 62 and 63 say defendants can appeal against a court verdict within 30 days after it is delivered on condition that the defendants do so without the help of a lawyer. However, the practice only applies to cases brought to court after the organic law comes into effect.

 

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