[EDITORIALS]Keeping eye on prosecutorsPresident Roh Moo-hyun has requested prosecutors to slow down their current investigations. He is worried that people will feel uneasy because random investigations are being launched as a new administration enters. Mr. Roh raised the issue at the first meeting of presidential senior secretaries. At news of the arrest of SK Group chairman Chey Tae-won, which was followed by news that prosecutors reopened investigations into the Hanwha Group and that they will also investigate Representative Lee Yoon-soo, the business community and political circles are speculating that the usual investigation drive that comes with a new regime has started.
Judging from what Mr. Roh said, the current investigation drive has nothing to do with him. A Blue House spokesman added, “It is not desirable that investigations be postponed or untouched because of political considerations, and are then launched at once as if catering to the tastes of a new government.” It seems certain that prosecutors made their own decision to launch investigations on the eve of the new government.
We think it natural that prosecutors investigate where there is wrongdoing. Presidential intervention in decisions made by prosecutors is against the independence of the prosecution. However, if prosecutors knew that there were irregularities, why did they sit still until a new government took office and launch investigations en masse, like a rainfall? As a Blue House spokesman said, it is likely that the investigations were aimed either to curry favor of the new government or to demonstrate power of the prosecution to the new leadership. If either is true, prosecutors should be ashamed of themselves. In the recent past, they have been dishonored and called “political prosecutors” because they have not been free from politicians. Now they volunteer to be political prosecutors. What’s going on here?
We welcome President Roh’s remarks as an expression that he will not be tempted by reform drives motivated by political retaliation and driven by guards with armbands.