[EDITORIALS]Are They Actually Prosecutors?A former high-ranking National Intelligence Service official, Kim Hyung-yoon, has been arrested and charged with accepting 55 million won ($42,000) in bribes from a finance-industry official, but only after some apparent maneuvering. Mr. Kim also has been linked with the chairman of G&G Group, Lee Yong-ho, who is detained on charges of bribery and embezzlement, and the arrest is expected to shed light on the scandal involving Mr. Lee.
Events leading up to Mr. Kim's arrest are surrounded in mystery. Allegations of bribery had surfaced in an investigation last December into improper lobbying on behalf of Dongbang Mutual Savings and Finance. Facts revealed last week in the Kim case closely followed statements given by Dongbang's vice chairwoman Lee Kyung-ja in December. There were enough grounds for Mr. Kim's arrest 10 months ago.
What caused who to put a stop to the earlier investigation? The events surrounding the Dongbang case, and the apparently premature release of G&G's Mr. Lee last year after one day in detention, point to serious misconduct by the prosecution. It had obtained Ms. Lee's statements on when and where she had personally paid off Mr. Kim. Then the prosecution proceeded to shelve the case. You would wonder if the people in the prosecutors office are actually prosecutors.
Obviously, the prosecution was negligent and incompetent, bordering on criminal. The leading prosecutor on the Dongbang case should be disqualified, and he should, if the facts stand, face a criminal penalty. His superiors, all the way up the line of authority to the leadership of the Public Prosecutor's Office, cannot be excluded from the same criticism. They must have known about the details of the case and must be blamed for whatever their parts were. If leaders were involved in stopping or hindering the investigations, they should be punished for abuse of public authority. These are criminal activities that cannot be justified or explained by the principle of "the prosecution as a singular organism."
It would be unacceptable for the prosecution to regurgitate its standard excuses about a "missing key witness" or "case suspended." A clear explanation of what occurred and the punishment of all officials responsible are needed to prevent a repeat of collective humiliation.