[EDITORIALS]A prosecution in chaos

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[EDITORIALS]A prosecution in chaos

The Prosecutors Office is in chaos due to the beating death of a criminal suspect. Both the minister of justice and the prosecutor general have resigned with dishonor, and the entire Seoul District Prosecutors Office is under scrutiny. Attention is centered on the selection of a new minister of justice, who will be serving only for about 100 days.

The importance of a justice minister need not be explained, since the weighty responsibility of the presidential election and reconstruction of the prosecution comes with the job. How difficult it must be to find a figure of suitable will and ability to bear the short-term burden and rescue the prosecution.

The new minister will be the eighth since the beginning of President Kim Dae-jung's term. Each has held the office, on average, for roughly seven months. Only two served for more than a year. The departed prosecutor general was the fifth in this administration. It has been long since the law requiring a two-year term was enforced, which shows how the current government has managed the Ministry of Justice and the prosecution. It cannot be understood separately from the present pathetic status of the prosecution.

Just as important as the selection of new leaders is the response of prosecutors. They must ruminate on their responsibility for the public mistrust that has befallen them. To whom will they attribute the incessant intramural disputes and the popular cynicism that "Your innocence depends on how deep your pocket is?" The internal discord during the investigation of the sons of the presidential candidate and the president is no less shameful than the beating death of a suspect.

It is unfortunate that the office's investigations are beginning to wither. This may open doors for gangsters or other antisocial groups, precipitating a burst of violent crime during these times of power rift. The activities of the prosecution, the consequences of which cannot be stressed enough, are directly linked to law and order in our country, especially during a change of regime. It is crucial to choose the new chief executives by emphasizing the role of revitalizing the prosecution as one of the main qualifications.
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