Prosecutors' record defended

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 April, 2008, 12:00am

Despite criticism over the handling of certain cases questioning whether there was preferential treatment for the rich and powerful, the director of public prosecutions, Grenville Cross SC, said he felt confident that 'by and large, we get things right'.

At the yearly review of the Department of Justice's prosecutions division yesterday, Mr Cross said: 'Obviously, I am concerned when we get criticism of particular cases, particularly if they involve the way in which the case has been handled by prosecutors. But I derive some reassurance from the fact that we handle so many cases and most of them pass without comment ...

'I think it's very important to maintain a perspective.'

Last year, there were 221,764 new prosecutions in the courts, an increase on 2006, when there were 215,302, reflecting the increase in the crime rate.

Conviction rates remained relatively steady at more than 75 per cent in the Magistrate's Court and just over 90 per cent in the District Court and Court of First Instance.

The prosecution of Chung Yik-tin, allegedly involved in the publishing of nude pictures of celebrities, and the objection to bail for the charge of publishing an obscene article, raised questions over whether this would have happened if he had been rich and powerful. Mr Chung was released when a tribunal ruled the picture was not, in fact, obscene.

Mr Cross would not comment yesterday on specific cases, but he said Mr Chung's took place this year and was not within the review period. However, he stressed the law was applied impartially.

Mr Cross said he could not reveal deliberations over possible prosecutions over the unlicensed broadcasts by Citizens' Radio, but said: 'It doesn't matter to us which particular group anyone may belong to.'