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Verdict on Moon Kook-hyun

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Sept 21,2009

It is a matter of sincere regret that the trial of Moon Kook-hyun, president of the opposition Creative Korea Party, has become the subject of a huge political controversy. Some continue to insist that he is the victim of targeted investigations, however the allegation is nothing but an anachronism. In addition, we cannot understand why opposition leaders have been allowed to intervene in his case, which is pending in the Supreme Court. The autonomy of the judiciary should be respected. In particular, cases involving the election law should never be allowed to be manipulated for political purposes.

Democratic Party Chairman Chung Sye-kyun, Liberty Forward Party floor leader Ryu Keun-chan, Democratic Labor Party leader Kang Ki-kab, and New Progressive Party Chairman Roh Hoe-chan insisted in a press conference last Thursday that “Moon has become the victim of targeted investigations with no credible evidence, groundless indictments and judicial murder by way of a distorted verdict that goes against common sense.” This is a sweeping indictment of the prosecution and the court, concluding that their actions amount to a government plot to intervene in the case in order to help former lawmaker Lee Jae-oh, a once powerful figure in the administration who had competed with Moon in the Eunpyeong district, return to politics.

Moon was indicted on charges of selling the party’s proportional legislative seat to Lee Han-jeong for 600 million won ($496,850) in party bonds before the general elections in April 2008. Moon was handed an eight-month prison term, which was suspended twice - at his first trial in December 2008 and at his second trial last July. If the ruling is upheld, Moon will be stripped of his seat.

The court will investigate the details of the situation to determine whether Moon sold party bonds or enjoyed economic profits at low interest rates. But the question of whether Moon committed an unlawful act should not be a matter of political concern. It is the party’s responsibility to clear up suspicions related to public nominations. As Chung Sye-kyun pointed out, this is because the Supreme Court is the ultimate guardian of justice and democracy.

Another controversy has surfaced over when the verdict will be handed down. If the ruling is made before Thursday, Lee Jae-oh may run for elections and participate in an early party convention. However, the Supreme Court has created doubt about whether any of that will be possible. The court has had difficulty determining when the verdict will be read, and decided on Sunday not to issue a sentence this month. The judiciary could retain its authority by offering to clear up any misunderstandings.



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