The number of cases involving juveniles sent to prosecutors in 1999 was 279,774, a decline of 6.3 percent from the previous year’s figure, the Justice Ministry said in an annual report released Thursday.

Although the total number of homicide suspects aged below 20 dropped last year, juvenile suspects held for serious crimes rose, ministry officials said.

They said the number of juveniles sent to public prosecutors for robbery offenses increased in 1999.

This year’s report came as politicians consider changes to the Juvenile Law to make young offenders criminally responsible from the age of 14, two years younger than under the current law, ministry sources said.

The number of boys sent to prosecutors last year totaled 227,378, down 4.8 percent from 1998, while there were 52,396 cases involving girls, a fall of 12.3 percent, the report says.

By age, the number of offenders aged 14 and 15 declined by 8.6 percent from the year before, accounting for 28 percent of the total.

Those aged 16 and 17 numbered 9.4 percent fewer than last year, accounting for 35 percent, while those aged 18 and 19 fell 2.9 percent, making up 37 percent of the total.

In a breakdown by type of crime, youths held over traffic violations topped the list at 88,150, followed by theft at 85,836 and negligence resulting in death or injury at 40,518.

A total of 105 juveniles were sent to prosecutors on suspicion of murder or attempted murder, 1,892 for robbery and 1,210 for violating the Stimulants Control Law.

The number of young offenders dropped below 500,000 in 1987, and fell to the 300,000 level in 1991 and the 200,000 level in 1994. The number increased slightly between 1995 and 1998.

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