[EDITORIALS]Unvarnished Truth in Lee Case

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[EDITORIALS]Unvarnished Truth in Lee Case

The suspicion that Lee Yong-ho, chairman of G&G, a firm specializing in corporate restructuring was under the "protection" of the political community and high-ranking prosecutors has intensified since his arrest. The opposition party is demanding special prosecutors to dig out the truth surrounding this case.

The main suspicion is whether high-ranking prosecutors or influential figures of the ruling party in "close relationship" with Mr. Lee exerted influence when Seoul District Prosecutors dropped charges against Mr. Lee shortly after they arrested him last May on charges of embezzling funds for corporate restructuring and of manipulating stock prices. The opposition party asserted that Mr. Lee donated political funds to ruling party members and managed bank accounts of the influential figures under assumed names. The prosecutor who took charge of Mr. Lee's case last May asserts that he settled the case under the principles of law, even though he had met Mr. Lee at drinking parties.

There are many inexplicable points. Most of all it has not been made clear why Mr. Lee was released right after his arrest last May. The prosecutors arrested Mr. Lee on charges of embezzlement after a two-month investigation but released him the next day. The prosecutors reported that they dropped the charges against Mr.Lee since most of the embezzled money was returned and Mr. Lee's former business partner withdrew his complaint. However, this reason for dropping charges against Mr. Lee is puzzling when taking into account that the Supreme Prosecutors Office arrested Mr. Lee on charges of embezzlement September 4, after he had already been held earlier on the same charges. The possibility that Mr. Lee lobbied high-ranking officials cannot be excluded since Mr. Lee was arrested at the orders of Prosecutor General Shin Seung-nam after Mr. Lee tried to lobby Mr. Shin's brother.

The people's mistrust of prosecutors has intensified due to criticisms that prosecutors have not handled corruption cases associated with influential figures thoroughly. Prosecutors should seek the truth, leaving no doubts. That is the only way to regain its credibility, which has hit the bottom.
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