[EDITORIALS]2-1/2 cheers for the counselThe independent counsel's office, led by Cha Jung-il, wrapped up its investigation of the Lee Yong-ho scandal on Monday. The independent counsel indicted and detained nine figures involved in the scandal, including Shin Seung-hwan, Lee Hyung-taek and Lee Soo-dong. Three others, including a former lawmaker, Kim Bong-ho, were indicted without physical detention. The counsel said 10 more issues, including suspicious transactions in Kim Sung-hwan's bank account, were handed over to the prosecutors.
The outcome of the independent counsel's investigation is more than we expected. It is hard to believe that they investigated the complicated scandal for only three months. Without feeling inhibited about investigating powerful politicians, the counsel probed corruption of close aides of the president and family members of the prosecutor general. It is noteworthy that the counsel's office proved there was no sanctuary from its investigation. The people, hitherto accustomed to distorted, covered-up investigations by the prosecutors, had an enjoyable shock. Reading reports about the independent counsel's findings, we realized why we needed such a system. We applaud Mr. Cha and his office, who did well under unfavorable conditions.
But the investigation is not over yet. All is only well that ends well. Since the independent counsel unearthed more signs of problems, prosecutors now must hold up their end. They should get to the bottom of the suspicious transactions, worth billions of won, listed in Kim Sung-hwan's false-name bank account. There are also problems at the Kim Dae-jung Peace Foundation, a senior prosecutor leaked sensitive information and a government office appears to have been behind a paper describing how to gag the press. If the prosecutors do not change their attitude, nothing more can be done and the people will not believe the eventual results. Something like the independent counsel is needed in the Prosecutors Office.
We are not happy that the independent counsel was forced to limit the scope of its questioning and close up shop in the middle of its work. The problem is that the counsel's mandate was set by politicians, who should have given the counsel the right to set up its own work plan.