[EDITORIALS]An unsettling remarkWe are confused by President Roh Moo-hyun’s remark that he will not “let the prosecution which is under nobody’s control remain unchanged.” The Blue House yesterday clarified that “What the president meant was the prosecution needs to be checked as long as it has power. It seems that the public and the press read too much into it.”
Still, we are very much concerned that his comment may threaten the independence and neutrality of the prosecution, which he himself has emphasized as important.
In March, Mr. Roh told rank-and-file prosecutors he would never interfere with their investigation. The same month, in a meeting with the Justice Minister, he declared that the prosecution would not be used by the administration. In June, meeting with leaders of the prosecution, he said, “If a president does not meddle with the prosecution’s affairs, public confidence in the prosecution will be recovered. This is the key to the reform of the prosecution.”
Now that he says he will not leave it alone, we are doubtful of his true intention. Mr. Roh even said, “The president has enormous power as well.” We all know that the president holds the right to appoint prosecutors. Unfortunately, many former presidents used this power to secure command of the prosecution and used it for their political purposes. The president should not attempt to do this.
It was also inappropriate for Mr. Roh to say that sons of the former president Kim Dae-jung were investigated for charges that were not convincing. If such cases, involving large-scale bribery, do not involve “convincing charges,” what kind of charges would convince? These charges greatly upset the public for more than a year, and they were all convicted. We hope that such a remark does not mean that Mr. Roh would not want the prosecution to investigate illegality and corruption on the part of his relatives, if any.
With the advent of the Roh administration, the prosecution started regaining public confidence. The president should truly advocate the independence of the prosecution so that the independent prosecution could be one of his major achievements.