[EDITORIALS]'Undercover' cops return

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[EDITORIALS]'Undercover' cops return

Allegations of the abuse of power by the special investigation division of the National Police Agency have been divulged together with suspicions over the involvement of President Kim Dae-jung's third son, Kim Hong-gul, in suspicious money transactions. The special investigation division's duty, function and even behavior are so similar to the now defunct Sajikdong Team that one may think, mistakenly, that the team has been revived.

The Sajikdong Team was a police unit under the direct control of the Blue House, although it was an official branch of the National Police Agency. Under the pretext of "special duties," which included handling affairs related to the president's family and relatives and collecting and investigating alleged irregularities by high-ranking public servants, the team's work was conducted furtively, leading it to abuse its investigative power, which stirred controversy over the privatization of public power. The team was dissolved in October 2000 after furgate ?a failed attempt to trade political favor for fur coats -- and a loan scandal revealed its involvement in wrongdoings, including the cover-up of investigation results.

But the behavior of the special investigation division is no better than that of the Sajikdong Team. The escape overseas of the head of the division, Choi Seong-gyu, elucidates the problems. More important is the fact that Mr. Choi had reported directly to a presidential secretary, ignoring the police chain of command. The presidential secretary, whom Mr. Choi met three days before his escape, said that Mr. Choi visited him often and his latest visit was on regular business. The Sajikdong Team was dissolved to "enhance transparent police work by restoring the official status of the police unit." If the head of a police division frequently visited the Blue House seeking direction, is there any reason to believe that the Sajikdong Team has not been maintained under another name?

The police and the Blue House are responsible for disguising the special investigation unit. To prevent another attempt to revive the Sajikdong Team and restore police discipline, those responsible should be made accountable.
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