Japan :Ministry eyes ways to stop bail jumpers
TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) - Following a series of escapes by defendants and others while out on bail, the Justice Ministry plans to strengthen measures to prevent such flights, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
Following a series of escapes by defendants and others while out on bail, the Justice Ministry plans to strengthen measures to prevent such flights, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
According to sources, the ministry is considering expanding the scope of so-called crimes of escape, which currently apply only to people who flee from jail and other facilities, and establishing such measures as penalties for accused persons who refuse to obey court summons while out on bail.
The ministry will consult in February at the earliest with the Legislative Council, an advisory body to the justice minister, about revisions to laws including the Penal Code.
Under the Penal Code, “crimes of escape” apply only to the escapes of suspects, defendants and others who are confined in penal facilities such as jails and detention facilities at police stations. The penalty is a maximum of one year in jail.
Since people who run away while out on bail cannot be prosecuted for their crimes, the Legislative Council will apparently discuss the application of the crime of escape to such cases.
In addition, the Criminal Procedure Code stipulates that a person who is summoned by the court as a witness but does not appear in court without a justifiable reason will be punished by imprisonment for up to a year or other penalties. However, there are no penalties for defendants and others who do not respond to court summons while out on bail.
The Legislative Council is expected to discuss the revision of the Criminal Procedure Code to establish similar penalties for defendants out on bail, the sources said.
On Dec. 31, it was learned that former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn, 65, had fled Japan. If the laws are revised as planned, crimes of escape will apply to cases like that of Ghosn, who had been out on bail.
However, it is difficult to physically detain a foreigner who has fled overseas. Some say accused persons should be required to wear global positioning system (GPS) devices, in order to strengthen the monitoring of their movements after being released on bail. The Legislative Council likely will consider such issues.
In recent years, the courts have tended to actively release accused persons on bail. According to the Supreme Court, the percentage of cases in which an accused person was granted bail by a lower court before the ruling increased from 14% in 2008 to 32% in 2018.
The number of cases in which defendants out on bail were indicted in other cases has been also on the rise. According to a white paper on crime, the number of such cases increased from 102 in 2008 to 258 in 2018, an increase of about 2.5 times.
In Kanagawa Prefecture, a man whose prison sentence was finalized after being released on bail swung a kitchen knife at officials of the Yokohama District Public Prosecutor’s Office, who had gone to detain him, and escaped in a car in June last year. After that case, the Justice Ministry began considering the necessity to revise relevant laws.