[EDITORIALS]Torture case demands truth

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[EDITORIALS]Torture case demands truth

In the aftermath of a suspect's death by beating and torture during an interrogation by prosecutors, Shim Sang-myoung was appointed the new minister of justice and Kim Kak-young, prosecutor general. In these appointments that come during the last days of his administration, President Kim Dae-jung persisted in his practice of filling at least one of these two posts with a native from the Jeolla provinces, his home region. It is unclear whether the new judiciary team led by Mr. Shim and Mr. Kim will overcome their bleak start amidst charges that another suspect having been tortured with water during an interrogation to meet the public's expectations.

Mr. Shim's term as justice minister will inevitably be short, his appointment coming less than 100 days before President Kim Dae-jung steps down. Prosecutor General Kim was disciplined during his term as chief of the Seoul Prosecutors Office for his inappropriate investigation of "venturegate," a scandal involving fraudulent start-up businesses with political backing, a flaw that he will have to work hard to overcome. In other words, whether a short-term minister and a prosecutor general with flawed backgrounds will overcome the worst crisis in the prosecutors office is a big question.

The new judiciary chiefs should first take care of the charges that water torture was practiced on the suspects. This is a far more serious problem than the charges of taking political sides and manipulating investigations. The very fundamental worthiness of this self-styled "human rights administration" has been shattered if its prosecutors are found guilty of having practiced water torture on their suspects. Finding the truth and punishing those responsible while preparing measures to make sure this doesn't happen again are all urgent tasks.

It is important that a new justice minister or prosecutor general have the right kinds of determination and will. Mr. Shim and Mr. Kim should vow to do what is expected of them, even if it is for a single month.
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