[EDITORIALS]Political scofflaws

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[EDITORIALS]Political scofflaws

When we look at Grand National Party member Kim Chan-woo or Millennium Democrat Kim Bang-rim, you would think the National Assembly is a haven for suspected criminals. Some assemblymen are taking advantage of their constitutional right of immunity from arrest without the consent of the Assembly unless they are caught red-handed committing a crime. The Assembly has delayed considering requests for the arrest of lawmakers. Millennium Democrats Kim Keun-tae and Chung Dong-young refuse to present themselves for questioning by prosecutors. These are just some of the cases of justice thwarted.

The Grand National Party's Mr. Kim is suspected of having taken 600 million won ($500,000) from local office candidates in return for the party's backing of their candidacies. An arrest warrant has been issued, but the Assembly has not moved for five months and the statute of limitations will run out in one month. The three people suspected of having paid Mr. Kim have all been detained, so there is a question of equity if he goes scot-free.

A Millennium Democrat, Kim Bang-rim, has been accused of taking 50 million won for using her influence in the investigation of a businessman, Chin Seung-hyun, and another 50 million won in questionable political donations. A warrant for her arrest has been issued, but the National Assembly has refused to act on it for six months.

The cases of representatives Kim Keun-tae and Chung Dong-young are different, but they have not responded to subpoenas for allegedly having accepted 20 million won each from the former party boss Kwon Rho-kap. They have admitted to the charges but are immune.

Assemblymen say they are too busy to consider the matters, and immunity from arrest is being abused by the Assembly to protect members who acted questionably -- a fine example for the public.

The presidential candidates Lee Hoi-chang and Roh Moo-hyun are former judges. They should take the lead. The political community should also realize that there is more to lose by abusing its privileges than politicians seem to realize.
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