Asia-Pacific

Taiwan judges on corruption charges

Rally against Taiwan's judicial system in Taipei (Sept 2010)
Image caption The case comes as public anger rises over a lack of efficient monitoring of those working in the judiciary

Twelve judges, prosecutors, lawyers and others in Taiwan have been charged with corruption, as part of a campaign to clean up the island's corruption-plagued judicial system.

Three of those indicted on Monday were senior High Court judges.

They are accused of taking bribes from a legislator who was on trial for corruption.

He had been sentenced to prison by a lower court, but was acquitted by the judges.

This is one of the worst corruption scandals to hit Taiwan's judicial system in decades.

The head of the judiciary was forced to resign over the case earlier this year.

Taiwan's Supreme Prosecutors Office says the judges have damaged public trust in the judiciary, and is calling for heavy sentences, ranging from 11 to 24 years in jail.

Nine other defendants - including working and retired judges, prosecutors and lawyers - have also been indicted on corruption charges.

Taiwan is considered a beacon of democracy in Asia. But analysts say the judiciary lacks independence and checks and balances.

After this case surfaced, President Ma Ying-jeou vowed to rid the judiciary of corruption and to ensure its integrity.

He plans to set up a government agency devoted to fighting corruption, overseen by a panel including scholars, experts and community leaders.

The judiciary has also announced plans to form a team to monitor its personnel.

But judicial reform advocates say Taiwan does not lack institutions to investigate corruption, but that the system currently relies on the willpower of people in charge to launch investigations.

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