Law mulled to prevent convicted from fleeing

By Joseph Yeh

The China Post–The government is mulling amending laws to prevent those convicted of a crime from fleeing the country to avoid serving their prison terms. The calls for reform come after former Legislator Lo Fu-chu (羅福助) went missing before he was scheduled to begin a sentence earlier this week. The ex-independent lawmaker was ordered to report to the Taipei District Prosecutors Office on Tuesday to start serving a four-year prison term but did not show up and was immediately placed on a wanted list.

Local newspapers have speculated that Lo may have fled the country and could be in the mainland China, where many Taiwanese economic criminals are currently hiding. Lo’s disappearance became the main focus at a legislative session yesterday in Taipei, with lawmakers calling on the government to amend current laws to prevent such incidents from happening again. In response, Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源), who fielded questions in the session, said that Lo’s escape revealed a “gray area” in the current Code of Criminal Procedure (刑事訴訟法). In Taiwan, after somebody has been convicted he or she is ordered by the judiciary to appear at a certain date to serve his or her sentence, instead of being remanded to custody immediately, resulting in many cases similar to Lo’s. Ministry of Justice Prosecution Office Deputy Director Lin Jinn-tsun (林錦村), who attended the same session, said that the ministry may amend the Code of Criminal Procedure so that those were given sentences would be required to wear ankle monitors before they begin their jail terms. Those convicted and given relatively heavier sentences could be asked to remain in custody until they are admitted to the prison to prevent them from fleeing, Lin said.