[EDITORIALS]Paying a suspect to run on

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[EDITORIALS]Paying a suspect to run on

A former police official on the lam in a corruption investigation was paid nearly 100 million won ($82,000) in retirement pay last month. Choi Seong-gyu, the former head of the National Police Agency's special investigation division, fled the country in April as he was being sought for an inquiry into his ties to Choi Gyu-seon, a former aide of President Kim Dae-jung who was indicted for influence-peddling. How this high-ranking official has been able to dodge investigators and how he as a suspect wanted by the authorities could have received such a large pension is a mystery. We doubt the government's commitment to arrest Mr. Choi.

Mr. Choi was one of the central figures in the investigation of an intricate network of influence peddling that eventually put the president's son, Hong-gul, in jail for corruption. Mr. Choi, however, fled before the investigation could intensify. At that time, Mr. Choi was reported to have been a frequent visitor to the Blue House and to have held a late-night meeting with Choi Gyu-seon before he fled. Mr. Choi is also facing charges of having received a bribe from a Gangnam clinic in return for killing a police investigation into drug rebates. He was dismissed for dishonorable conduct and is now on Interpol's list of most wanted.

The police say the pension was paid according to regulations and that there is nothing wrong in that. The police said that they had talked with Mr. Choi on the phone in the process of paying the pension and they had given his address to authorities in the United States. A request for his extradition has been made.

This, however, is nothing but lame excuses. Giving such a large amount of money to Mr. Choi provides him with more money to run. There are plenty of legal ways the police could have held Mr. Choi's pension and used it as a tool for his apprehension. It seems the police are trying to help him get away. They stand accused of neglect of duty when they should be a pillar upholding the legal system and apprehending suspects.

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