&#91EDITORIALS&#93Put prosecutors to work

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&#91EDITORIALS&#93Put prosecutors to work

The cash-to-North Korea allegations keep growing in magnitude, but the prosecution announced its decision to shelve any investigation. It cited as the reason that it would be more appropriate for the National Assembly to take up the case, considering the impact on national interests and on relations with North Korea. It also said the case is legally dubious. The decision is a dereliction of duty by the prosecution; when faced with a case full of questions and possible illegalities, it decided to put "political considerations" ahead of legal ones.

The case first surfaced in September; the Board of Audit and Inspection conducted an investigation and the prosecution has looked into the charges, but the result has been just more questions. Now the problem has become too big to be swept under the rug.

The bigger the problem is, the more the solution should stick to the basics. The best solution is for the prosecution to quickly begin an investigation. But what the prosecution has decided to do is to protect itself; it has also bowed to political pressure. President Kim Dae-jung has said the issue is not subject to legal scrutiny and President-elect Roh Moo-hyun's transition team officials appear to prefer a National Assembly investigation. In addition to those views, there is a controversy over the "presidential authority to rule the nation." It would have taken extraordinary courage and determination by the prosecution to start a probe.

Prosecutors have zero credibility in cases involving politics, ergo the calls for a special prosecutor or a National Assembly investigation. Surely they realize what shame that brings on them.

The transitional period between administrations would have been the perfect time for the prosecution to recover its dignity, and now it has let that chance go. President-elect Roh has said that the prosecution must tackle investigations head-on, ready to face special prosecutors checking on their job. That request was just thrown out the window. If the prosecution is unable to free itself from political pressure, there will be no chance of recovering its integrity. It is not too late for a political solution after we have a legal judgment. We urge the prosecution to reconsider.
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