[EDITORIALS]Clear up these land dealsAhn Jung-nam, a former commissioner of the National Tax Service, resigned as construction minister shortly after his appointment in September 2001. The resignation, he said, was to obtain medical treatment in the United States. He returned to Korea in secrecy a few months ago.
According to the Justice Ministry and the prosecutors office, Mr. Ahn came back in March and was hospitalized in Seoul for treatment until early June, when he was discharged.
Who is Mr. Ahn? He resigned as the construction minister after allegations began to mount about real estate speculation in southern Seoul. The prosecutors, however, did not pursue the charges, saying they could not find enough evidence, and did not ban him from leaving the country.
But after his departure, suspicions of his involvement in a bribery case surfaced after investigations by a special prosecutor. Kim Hong-up, the second son of former President Kim Dae-jung, received a bribe of 170 million won ($143,000) from a pizza restaurant chain for settling a tax probe and reducing a tax assessment through Lee Soo-dong, a senior official at the Kim Dae-jung Peace Foundation.
The prosecutors included allegations against Mr. Ahn in the arraignment report of Mr. Kim and Mr. Lee, but ended the investigation without charging Mr. Ahn. Of course, it would be wrong to conclude that someone is guilty of a crime without giving him a chance to defend himself in an investigation. Nonetheless, the prosecutors did not request notification of Mr. Ahn’s re-entry, and seem to have no inclination to investigate him.
Despite the confirmation of his entry, the prosecutors said, “Mr. Ahn is neither being charged, nor there is an obvious charge to make against him. After studying suspicions brought up by the media, the prosecution will decide whether to start an investigation.”
The prosecutors should begin that investigation immediately. Mr. Ahn should confess. Didn’t he show his patriotism by claiming that he wanted to be wrapped in the national flag after his death?