[EDITORIALS]Yellow card for prosecutors

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[EDITORIALS]Yellow card for prosecutors

Investigators at the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office announced that they would postpone a summons for Kim Hong-up, the second son of President Kim Dae-jung, who is suspected of laundering a large sum of money. Mr. Kim will be called after the World Cup festivities end a month from now, prosecutors said.

They also postponed issuing subpoenas for Kim Dae-woong, the Gwangju head prosecutor alleged to have leaked information about the investigation of the president's son, and Shim Wan-gu, the mayor of Ulsan who faces bribery allegations, the office said.

The reason for the postponement was that politically sensitive investigations would damage the World Cup spirit.

That is unacceptable. The prosecutors must uphold justice strictly. We cannot call ourselves a law-abiding country if our judicial system is influenced by outside pressure. Worse, the announcement follows other erratic prosecution actions. Their hesitancy was preceded by vows among the ruling party and the Blue House elite that Kim Hong-up will not be indicted along with his brother Hong-gul, who faces other allegations of bribery. The prosecutors and the Blue House have clashed, and divisions within the prosecutors office have surfaced.

Mr. Kim initially denied all the allegations against him, but then his bank transactions were traced, and billions of won of freshly laundered funds were found. The special prosecutor, Cha Jung-il, uncovered the transactions; they were then turned over to the prosecutors when the special counsel's mandate expired. The prosecuton is reportedly almost finished with its work on the case, and its tardiness in charging Kim Dae-woong and Mr. Shim has provoked a lot of speculation.

The postponement was announced shortly after the Grand National Party agreed to suspend political fighting during the World Cup season. One cannot help but get the impression that the prosecutors are indeed considering their investigation a political issue.

Political contention is one thing; judicial investigations are another. It is the prosecutors' duty in a law-abiding country to charge anyone they think is guilty regardless of the suspect's status or rank. The prosecutors should abide by the law and just put the World Cup out of their official mind.
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