[EDITORIALS] Prosecution in Ruling Party's Pocket

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[EDITORIALS] Prosecution in Ruling Party's Pocket

It has come to light that the prosecution put a halt to an investigation into Rep. Sim Kyu-sub of the Millennium Democratic Party on charges of embezzlement and offering bribes to cover up the crime. It smacks of favorable treatment for ruling party lawmakers. This case fans further suspicion that the prosecution is deep into politics.

The education ministry asked the prosecution to review Mr. Sim's case after it confirmed the allegations through an internal audit prompted by a petition by professors. In 1999, Mr. Sim, who was then chairman of the board of directors at Pyongtaek Engineering College (now Kyungmoon College), allegedly embezzled 5.8 billion won ($4.5 million) in tuition money and gave 10 million won in bribes to a high-level Education Ministry official to keep the crime under wraps. Mr. Sim insists that the alleged wrongdoing happened before he won the National Assembly seat, and the case was dropped because it was found that he did not misappropriate the entire amount for his personal benefit and he did not divert the money from the university.

Mr. Sim first stated that he had used 1.2 billion won in student tuition to pay his personal debts, but he reversed that statement. Yet, no additional investigation was done. The alleged bribe recipient was punished and Mr. Sim confessed to paying the bribe, but then denied it. The case was dropped because of his denial.

The prosecution's favorable treatment of the ruling party is evident in the handling of election law violators as well. The Seoul High Court recently accepted adjudication applications for three cases related to members of the ruling party. The court's acceptance confirms its recognition that the prosecution mishandled the cases. How does the prosecution explain that the eight cases accepted by the court out of the 68 reviewed, seven are MDP-related, and the eighth concerns the United Liberal Democrats, partner in the coalition government?

The prosecution must stop playing handmaiden for the powers that be. Mr. Sim's case should be thoroughly delved into to demonstrate the prosecution's independence and political neutrality.
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