[EDITORIALS]Hands off the prosecutionThe appointments of senior prosecutors announced Friday give the impression that legal reform is retreating. A string of scandals involving prosecutors have been uncovered and suspicions involving their role in irregularities and biased investigations were exposed. To restore the public's confidence, a consensus was reached that internal punishments were inevitable if reforms were to proceed. But after six months, those punished were back at their original posts without explanation.
The most noteworthy case is the return of senior prosecutors held accountable in connection with the investigation into the Lee Yong-ho scandal. The investigation was handed over to the independent counsel after the prosecutors failed to uncover the truth. The independent counsel uncovered various misdeeds involving political heavyweights and senior prosecutors, leading to their punishment. If the prosecution wants them back to their positions now, there should be explanations.
With such personnel reshuffles, people will not trust the talk of reform and the independence of the prosecution.
The most important virtue of the prosecution is its political neutrality and independence. Personnel appointments of prosecutors should be made in line with this.
Although the number of prosecutors involved in the move was small, an important core of posts were all included. For Justice Minister Kim Jung-kil, therefore, it is in effect an overall reshuffle consolidating his personal rule over the ministry. The future moves of the ministry and the prosecution will be under scrutiny.
Follow-up reshuffles will call attention to whether the prosecutors involved in the investigation into controversial military service exemption scandals are looked at closely. The Grand National and Millennium Democratic parties are already putting pressure on the prosecution. Under such circumstances, the best way of avoiding controversy is to follow sound principle. Under no circumstances is it desirable for the political parties to intervene in personnel appointments at the prosecution.