[EDITORIALS]Prosecution Reform a First StepThe Ministry of Justice has disclosed its plan to reform the prosecution. The plan is to help boost people's trust in the prosecution, which has fallen to its lowest level. The plan can be said to be a successful step to find ways to improve the prosecution's tarnished image, but it won't be the ultimate reform plan that has been expected. That is because we cannot erase the feeling that the ministry has disclosed the plan because it feels cornered. How can we trust the plan when the result of an investigation into the Lee Yong-ho scandal, released on the same day, or the wrapping up of Kim Hyung-yun's case in a fishy manner, make us wonder about the sincerity of the prosecution's will to reform itself?
Of course, there are some points to be appreciated. First, the most outstanding one is the measure to activate the personnel commission of the prosecution. Since unfair personnel transfers based on regional and school ties have made the morale of the prosecution sink, and have been the core reasons for obstructing fair dealings with cases, it is certainly the most urgent task to be addressed. In addition, it is one step forward for political independence that the prosecution decided to establish a special prosecutor's office for handling politically sensitive cases.
Allowing prosecutors the rights to challenge the orders from their superiors is also symbolically meaningful in the sense that it would reduce the ill effects of the rule that says prosecutors cannot challenge their superiors. It is also appropriate that the prosecutors abolished the rule that says leaders of our society can be arrested only after permission by the prosecutor general or the justice minister. We welcome the expansion of cases in which someone can ask the court to name a lawyer to work as a prosecutor when state prosecutors decide not to indict criminal suspects who are also government officials.
However, all those problems have already been raised many times. In other words, the prosecution has already known those matters, but it has done nothing about them. It is like trying to avoid a passing shower if the prosecution presents the items in the reform plan without sincere will to implement them. And if the prosecution has the will to reform in earnest, it has to show that it can properly investigate cases.
We cannot understand under what circumstances the prosecution postponed its investigation of a high-ranking official at the National Intelligence Service, who was reported to have received 55 million won ($42,000). To say they had to postpone the investigation because of delayed investigations of witnesses is to be blind to reality. We wonder if there was an intentional move within the prosecution to drop the case unilaterally since there were talks about changing the prosecutor in charge of the case.
We can hardly allow the prosecutors on the case to excuse themselves by saying that they cannot remember anything. If they cannot remember something that made their blood boil a few months ago, how can they be qualified to be high-ranking prosecutors?
We have many suspicions to be cleared up regarding the case. However, the prosecution tried to wrap up the case by indicting Mr. Kim several days after arrest, and saying, "He received the money but did not try to influence on behalf of the money." Meanwhile, the prosecutors are crying for reform. It is just pathetic to watch them.
The reform plan is important. However, a thorough investigation by the prosecution, which leaves no trace of doubt and clears up all political suspicions, would be more effective to win back the people's trust.