[EDITORIALS]More Prosecution Black Marks

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[EDITORIALS]More Prosecution Black Marks

A controversy erupted over the weekend after an appellate court ruled that some of the evidence prosecutors submitted during the trial of Representative Chung Jey-moon of the opposition Grand National Party was fabricated. Mr. Chung has been indicted on charges of contacting a North Korean official without permission shortly before the presidential election in 1997. Particularly shocking was the judge's remark after his ruling that prosecutors may have used the court as a venue for political mudslinging.

Mr. Chung's case is a part of the so-called "North Wind" allegations, according to which the then-governing Grand National Party asked North Korea to instigate a military clash near the border to lure conservative votes in the 1997 presidential election. During the appeals proceedings that began in September, prosecutors suddenly came up with a host of new evidence and testimony. The governing Millennium Democratic Party used the allegations to try to tarnish the image of the Grand National Party during the by-elections last month.

Fabricating evidence submitted to court is a criminal act that should be punished. It is a serious problem if indeed prosecutors distorted evidence in a case that involves the leader of the main opposition party. It is also natural for the public to cast a skeptical eye on the prosecution since there has been a series of corruption allegations lately where the prosecutors' political neutrality has been questioned.

Prosecutors argue that it is premature for the court to rule out the evidence without thoroughly examining it. A serious conflict with the court may be brewing.

"Under no circumstances can the court see the validity of the evidence," the court said, noting that two signatures on the document are identical and the signatures were printed over some preexisting marks.

This case should not develop into a dispute between the court and the prosecution. The prosecution should investigate the issue to uncover the truth. Who may have distorted the evidence after Mr. Chung's indictment - and why - need to be found out and that person must be held responsible. In addition, how such poor evidence got submitted to the court through the hands of prosecutors needs to be uncovered.
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