&#91EDITORIALS&#93The counsel’s independence

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[EDITORIALS]The counsel’s independence

President Roh Moo-hyun and the Millennium Democratic Party should stop expressing opinions about the independent counsel investigating the transfer of money to North Korea. Their statements are particularly disappointing because Lee Ki-ho, the Blue House economic adviser in the Kim Dae-jung administration, and Lee Keun-young, former governor of the state-run Korea Development Bank, have just been charged with directing the lending and processing of 400 billion won ($333 million) that was provided to Hyundai Merchant Marine. Blue House intervention directly violates the entire point of conducting an independent investigation. It could also be seen as an attempt to block efforts to find out the truth behind the secret transfer.
President Roh said May 27 that he would do his best to keep the investigation from damaging inter-Korean relations. The statement indicates a clear intent to influence the investigation. How Mr. Roh intends to meddle in it is the first question. More troubling, the remark could destroy the credibility of an investigation designed to avoid conflict of interest in having the government prosecution probe the matter. Chung Kyun-hwan, the Millennium Democratic Party floor leader, said yesterday that the counsel’s “excessive” investigation and physical detention of suspects amounts to “legalistic terror” against reconciliation efforts between the two Koreas. Is this not precisely political terror against the counsel that is charged with finding the truth behind a national suspicion?
Pressure from the government and ruling party is interpreted as an effort to protect the former president. But it is important to discover how much money was sent and why. Political considerations have no place in the conduct of an investigation. The sentiment of the Korean people and the national interest can be considered after all suspicions are explained. Both political parties agreed on this investigation. The primary responsibility of the government and the ruling party is to fully cooperate with it. That will set North-South relations straight and serve the national interest. One should not exert political pressure on the independent counsel.
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