[EDITORIALS]The police and Mr. Choi

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[EDITORIALS]The police and Mr. Choi

We learned belatedly that Choi Seong-gyu, former head of the Special Investigation Division of the National Police Agency, made a phone call to his superior, Lee Seung-jae, the agency's investigation bureau chief, from an airplane flying to New York. But Lee Seung-jae tried to hide the fact of the conversation and did not report it to his boss for three days. After the telephone conversation, Mr. Choi managed to leave John F. Kennedy Airport in New York without being noticed by the members of the Korean press and an official from the Korean Consulate in New York who were waiting for his arrival. Just what did the two men say to each other?

Choi Gyu-seon, who was arrested in connection with a scandal also involving Kim Hong-gul, the third son of President Kim Dae-jung, told a court that the Blue House tried to arrange his escape overseas and that Choi Seong-gyu suggested that both men flee together. Choi Gyu-seon apparently met presidential secretaries at the Blue House three days before his departure. Because of those meetings, some Blue House officials have been investigated to see if they helped Choi Gyu-seon in his escape. It is incomprehensible that a conversation with the person in question was not been reported up the chain of command for some days.

Mr. Lee said, "I was too busy to report to the commissioner general." Nonsense. What is more important right now? Public attention is focused on the case and the Blue House and the police are in the hot seat. The contents of the conversation with Mr. Choi could provide clues to tracing his whereabouts. It could also provide vital information on those who gave him protection. Whether it was negligence of duty or intended obstruction of an investigation on Mr. Lee's part should be clarified. If there is the slightest indication of obstructing an investigation, it can be assumed that an inner group is operating within the police organization.

"Too busy to report" is not an acceptable excuse. Mr. Lee has a lot to answer for. Under the circumstances, we also wonder if the one reported international phone call was really the only one that was made.

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