[EDITORIALS]Stain on prosecutors' honor

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[EDITORIALS]Stain on prosecutors' honor

The prosecution has announced that in November Kim Dae-woong, at the time head of Seoul District Public Prosecutor's Office, divulged to Lee Soo-dong, then-director of the Kim Dae-jung Peace Foundation, the content of an investigation into the Lee Yong-ho scandal. According to Tuesday's announcement, Mr. Kim, who is now in charge of the Gwangju High Prosecutor's Office, called Mr. Lee and said, "The Supreme Public Prosecutor's Office is about to start investigating Do Sung-hee. Is there anything you might have to worry about?" Mr. Lee left for the United States, possibly to escape, right after the call.

The head of the Seoul office is considered one of the three top prosecutorial positions. It is unimaginable for someone in that position to disclose investigative secrets to a possible suspect. This incident is an indelible stain on the prosecution's honor. It is much more serious than a corruption case. Mr. Kim neglected his prosecutor's duty to tend a personal relationship, discarding his professional ethics. Every prosecutor should be ashamed of Mr.Kim's act.

It is much more shocking in its confirmation of much-rumored collusion between politicians and prosecutors. Papers prepared for intervening in the promotion of military generals and discussing ways to rein in the press were found at Mr. Lee's house. Evidently, these are not mere coincidence. That a senior prosecutor leaked investigation information explains why previous investigations into political scandals have been minimal, distorted and not impartial.

Mr. Kim stubbornly denies that he divulged the content of the investigation although he admits that he phoned Mr. Lee. He also says he had no official knowledge because he was not directly involved in the investigation. Some lawyers therefore say it will be hard in strict law to call his behavior disclosure of official secrets.

The prosecution must find out who discussed the investigation with Mr. Kim, and seize the opportunity to root out so-called political prosecutors. For their part, the political prosecutors who secured their jobs through connections should resign. We expect the prosecution to start reforming itself now.
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