Enforcement of the revised Juvenile Law has increased the number of 16- to 19-year-old suspects in serious crimes whose cases are being sent from family courts to prosecutors, where they are handled more severely, according to Supreme Court sources.
According to a tally compiled by the top court, all teenage suspects in robberies resulting in death were sent back to prosecutors, while 67 percent of those in murder cases and cases involving bodily injury resulting in death were sent back between last April and February this year.
In the last 11 months, teenagers were suspects in nine murder cases, eight robberies resulting in death and 42 cases of bodily injury resulting in death.
Six of the murder cases, all eight cases of robbery resulting in death, and 28 of the cases of bodily injury resulting in death were sent back to prosecutors. These represent a sharp rise from the average figures for the last 10 years — from 25 percent to 67 percent for murder, from 42 percent to 100 percent for robbery resulting in death, and from 9 percent to 67 percent for bodily injury resulting in death.
These increases apparently reflect the stricter nature of the revised Juvenile Law, which stipulates that teenagers over 16 who intentionally commit murder should be sent back to prosecutors and tried as adults.
In 17 cases, however, family courts opted for protective measures, such as sending the suspects to reformatories, as exceptional cases permitted by law.
Another feature of the revised Juvenile Law is the lowered minimum age, from 16 to 14, for criminal charges, although no teenagers aged 14 or 15 were returned to prosecutors from family courts.
The amendment also calls for the strengthening of legal procedures for teenage suspects, such as by increasing the number of judges or the participation of prosecutors.
Of the 59 cases, 21 were handled with three judges, 25 with prosecutors and six with state-paid defense lawyers, according to the tally.
Regarding information disclosure on crime victims, access to investigative documents or permission to photocopy them was allowed in 453 cases, while crime victims or their relatives were permitted to speak out at trials or submit opinions to courts in 136 cases and the results of juvenile trials were conveyed to crime victims or their relatives in 471 cases.
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