[EDITORIALS]Let the investigation go onThe independent counsel investigating the cash-for-summit case has asked that the inquiry, which is set to end Wednesday, be extended. The Blue House and ruling party say the request should be refused. Their position damages the political and historic decision to name an independent counsel for the case. Since the counsel is provided for by law, the probe should continue.
The independent counsel was established to look into the allegations, not to draw a veil across them. The counsel has decided that more time is needed for a thorough investigation, and President Roh Moo-hyun should extend the investigation period. But the president’s aides and the ruling party are stressing that the extension should not be approved based on political concerns. That is an attempt to conceal the truth against the people’s right to know.
The counsel should extend its investigation into the involvement of former President Kim Dae-jung. Investigating Mr. Kim’s former chief of staff, Park Jie-won, the counsel found that Mr. Kim was notified before the inter-Korean summit of the transfer of $500 million to the North. The counsel must investigate how deeply Mr. Kim was involved in the transaction and why the Blue House considered the cash deal with the North to be an exercise of presidential prerogative. The court will decide how to handle Mr. Kim’s role in the matter.
In addition, another allegation concerning 15 billion won ($13.4 million) should be clarified. Lee Ik-chi, a former Hyundai Securities chairman, said he gave that amount of money to Mr. Park, but Mr. Park denied that claim. The ruling party said the money had nothing to do with the cash transfer to the North. The counsel said, however, the money was part of the preparations for the inter-Korean summit. Thus, the prosecution should investigate this development in the case. We believe it is reasonable to respect the independent counsel’s position.
Asking the counsel to stop its investigation now is nothing more than an attempt to cover up the truth. Even if the prosecution later completes the investigation, the people will not accept the validity of the prosecution’s conclusions because a postponement would jeopardize its credibility.
Eventually, the Roh administration would be criticized for making a political decision, taking into account Mr. Kim’s supporters and next year’s general election. We urge Mr. Roh to make the right decision.