[EDITORIALS]The prosecutors’ bedfellowsA prosecutor in the Cheongju District Prosecutors Office has asserted that someone in the office was protecting a nightclub owner whose entertainment of the personal secretary to President Roh Moo-hyun was secretly recorded on videotape. A second allegation holds that a prosecutor was involved in the taping of the secretary’s carousing.
According to the reports, a prosecutor investigating tax evasion charges against the nightclub owner wanted also to investigate additional charges of abetting a murder, but his senior prosecutor stopped him. The senior denied stopping the probe, saying, “I just told the prosecutor that he would have difficulty proving murder abetment because there was insufficient evidence.”
The two prosecutors contradict each other, and we do not know who is telling the truth. But it is embarrassing that a senior prosecutor was suspected of covering up a suspect under investigation. If a prosecutor was feeling pressure from his senior authority, how can we expect fair investigations and prosecutorial independence?
The prosecution can call itself independent only when it is free not only from outside influence, but also from internal pressure from senior authorities. If a senior prosecutor attempted to hinder a probe of a criminal suspect, that is undeniably an abuse of authority and a serious crime in itself. There have been continuous allegations that some prosecutors and some regional gangs were in illicit cahoots. Not long ago the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office questioned three prosecutors on charges of having inappropriate relationships with litigation middlemen and referred them to the disciplinary committee.
The Supreme Public Prosecutors Office immediately began a special inspection of the Cheongju case and removed the accused senior prosecutor from the investigation team. That was wise. The prosecution must make public all allegations in the case and punish those responsible if the charges are proved. The prosecution must check all its regional offices to prevent similar incidents and to root out illicit relationships between prosecutors and regionally influential persons.