[EDITORIALS]No kid gloves for Roh’s menThe prosecution has requested detention warrants for eight lawmakers, including Representative Kim Young-iel of the Grand National Party. The court has begun examining the matter, which is likely to lead to further detentions of sitting legislators.
The development is laudable, even only in the sense that the National Assembly did not call another session, often called “bullet-proof” sessions, because legal measures against lawmakers are forbidden when the Assembly is in session.
But the Assembly ignored this issue for quite some time before rejecting a prosecution call to allow the detention warrants to be issued against the lawmakers on Dec. 30. In the case of Representative Chyung Dai-chul of Our Open Party, whom the prosecution charged with receiving 700 million won ($592,000) from Goodmorning City Corp. and others, the prosecution motion was delivered to the National Assembly last July. The Assembly, until now, has opened extra sessions in order to protect these legislators. Any further attempts to shield them from the prosecution would give momentum to demands that legislative immunity be done away with. Among the legislators for whom detention warrants have been sought, Representatives Kim Young-iel and Choi Don-woong of the Grand National Party are charged with raising illegal political funds, and the others are charged with personal corruption.
Chairman Choe Byung-yul of the Grand National Party has claimed that the investigation is biased, saying that it has turned up 52 billion won illegally received by his party but “zero won” in Mr. Roh’s campaign war chest. He may be exaggerating, but it is true that the prosecution has found only about 5 billion won, and no one responsible for raising that money has been named.
We can imagine the difficulties the prosecutors face. Businesses that gave money to the winner will not come forward because this administration has about four years left to go. But prosecutors would be damaging their credibility if they comb through the illegal funds of the party that lost while leaving untouched the illegal funds of the winning party. The prosecution should clear up suspicions about Mr. Roh’s 2002 campaign to rebut charges of political bias.