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On the Admissibility and Reliability of the Codefendant’s Confession

  • DONG-A LAW REVIEW
  • 2014, (65), pp.103-124
  • Publisher : The Institute for Legal Studies Dong-A University
  • Research Area : Social Science > Law

Jin-Kyung Song 1

1동아대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Criminal defendant has the right of silence secured by article 12, clause 2 of the Korean Constitution and in order to materialize the Korean criminal procedure has article 244-3 of ‘announcement of right to refuse to make statements’, article 266-8 clause 6 and article 283-2 of ‘announcement of right to refuse to make statements’. Korean criminal procedure act has the Article 296-2 of ‘Examination of Defendant’. Therefore, it is not possible that public prosecutor interrogates codefendant as one of the witnesses or defendant has an opportunity of cross-examination of codefendant. For this reason, Supreme Court has not regarded the statements of codefendant as sworn statements of witnesses. Supreme Court has held that it is possible to use the statements of accomplice as evidences that satisfy qualifications for admissibility of evidence only if accomplice as witness make a sworn statement by separating the pleading because of securing the right to cross-examine accompliceIn a view point of constitutional criminal procedure, using statements of accomplice as statements of witness by separating the pleading mentioned above may be a plan as the last resort to secure the defendant’s right of cross-examination, this method could infringe on the accomplice’s right of silence. According to a research paper published in 2013, reversing the judgement of the first trial, the appeal court ruled the defendant not guilty on 170 cases out of the 540 violent crime cases occurred from 1995 to 2012. The main reason is accomplice’s false statements. Korean criminal jurists have already pointed out fact-findings on the basis of confessions of accomplice have the risk of false charges. In order to prevent misjudgement caused by false confessions and human rights violations caused by investigation depended upon defendant’s confession, the Constitution and criminal procedure law stipulate some provisions on corroborating evidence. I think that accomplices cooperate with each other when they commit a crime together, however, they shift the responsibility to others. There is a possibility that a defendant even points out a third person unrelated to the crime. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has held that a statement of accomplice written in protocol of trial has admissibility of evidence on the basis of the statements conducted in the presence of judge by applying the article 311 or the article 315 no. 3. This interpretation could violate the ideology of finding of passive substantial truth and the purpose of the criminal procedure for the examination of evidence. It is better for the Supreme Court not to apply the article 311 or the article 315 no. 3 in statements of accomplice or to specify that the articles could not be applied to statements of accomplice by revising the articles.

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This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.