South Korea’s Top Prosecutor Sees Progress on Grand Juries

Posted June 15th, 2011 at 12:20 am (UTC-5)
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South Korea's prosecutor general says it will likely be two to three more years before a grand jury system is introduced in the country.

Kim Joon-Gyu told a small group of foreign correspondents “it takes time,” during a mostly off-the-record session at a Seoul hotel on Wednesday.

Kim has been pushing for the widespread introduction of grand juries in South Korea, where the power to indict individuals is primarily in the hands of prosecutors.

Legal authorities say they are waiting for approval by the National Assembly to implement the system.

Kim went public with his advocacy of the grand jury system one year ago following a bribery and sex scandal involving about 100 current and former prosecutors in Busan.

South Korea has already introduced a public jury system, but the verdicts of the citizen committees, usually composed of nine people, are not legally binding. Kim defended that system, saying that in practice, prosecutors are following their recommendations.

Grand juries, in U.S. federal courts, comprise between 16 and 23 citizens. Prosecutors present evidence to the juries, which must decide whether the evidence is sufficient for a case to go to trial.

The United States is one of the few legal systems utilizing a grand jury system, which originated in the 12th century in England.

Kim met with foreign correspondents ahead of two significant international conferences in the South Korean capital. From June 26 to 29, Seoul hosts the annual meeting of the International Association of Prosecutors and from June 29 to July 2, the World Summit of Prosecutors General, Attorneys General and Chief Prosecutors. Kim is vice president of the first group.