'Innocent rate' at 1st trial hits decade-high 2.9% in 2007

The Supreme Court said Monday that 2.9% of defendants who denied criminal charges were found innocent at their initial trails in 2007, marking the highest level in a decade. Other data by the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office indicated that more district courts have declined to accept depositions, which show defendants’ confessions, as evidence. In several cases, whether the confessions were voluntary or credible was the focus of dispute.

The circumstances suggest district courts are assessing evidence more strictly prior to the introduction of a lay judge system next year. The so-called ‘‘innocent rate’’ at the initial trial was up from 2.6% in 2006 after hovering above 2% since 2003, according to the top court’s Criminal Affairs Bureau. District courts handed down rulings on 69,238 defendants last year, of whom 4,984 denied the charges against them. Of the 4,984, 97 were found fully innocent and 48 partially innocent.