[EDITORIALS]Set a thief to catch a thief

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[EDITORIALS]Set a thief to catch a thief

It now appears that Kim Dae-up, who has charged GNP presidential candidate Lee Hoi-chang's son with dodging the military draft, has been investigating suspects in other draft-dodging cases despite the fact that he was an imprisoned felon. It is a comedy when a convicted prisoner who was serving a prison term after being convicted on charges of fraud was able to work inside the public prosecutors office, acting as a criminal investigator. The Ministry of Justice and the prosecution must find out the truth, punish those responsible if the allegations are correct and apologize to the people.

It goes against common sense not to question the legality if the prosecutors allowed a convicted prisoner to take part in their investigations as many as 140 times over a period of several months. If a convicted prisoner is working as a criminal investigator, it also means that the prison system administration is a mess. It is not hard to imagine how Mr. Kim must have swaggered around the prison after his incarceration.

Strict enforcement of the law is the principal duty of prosecutors. If they employed handy methods of investigating crimes without worrying about the legality of those methods, they have to be called to account. If using a prisoner as an investigative assistant was a customary practice, that practice must be rooted out.

A prosecution spokesman said Mr. Kim had been present at face-to-face questioning of some suspects in draft-dodging cases, but he had never acted as an investigator. The spokesman also argued that the prosecution was especially careful when using Mr. Kim's services, so Mr. Kim alone had never investigated a suspect. Those explanations do not help much in clearing up the matter.

Kim Kil-boo, the former head of the Military Manpower Administration, already made public that Mr. Kim had acted as a senior investigator, and staff at the prosecutors office treated him as a senior investigator. The prosecutors must clarify the situation. If they do not, criticism about their lukewarm attitude toward doing their jobs properly will continue to grow.

The Justice Ministry and the prosecutors must quickly find out why and how Mr. Kim was included in the investigation team and what his role was. This is a separate matter from the investigation of Lee Hoi-chang's son.

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