[EDITORIALS]Subverting the judicial systemSpecial pardons are being discussed for those involved in sending $500 million in secret funds to North Korea under the Kim Dae-jung administration. This reflects an irresponsible, corrupting attitude, and would be an abuse of the presidential power to grant pardons. To turn what had the entire country abuzz, and even required a special counsel to investigate, into nothing would be to entirely topple the legal system.
Six persons were indicted in connection with the secret funds. Four, including Lim Dong-won, the former chief of the National Intelligence Service, appealed; their cases are still pending in the Supreme Court. Why is there already talk of pardons? This presidential option should be used only in highly exceptional cases. Moreover, if the president is determined to grant special pardons regardless of the court’s rulings, what’s the point of trials?
The judges in the first and second trials ruled that although the North-South summit itself could be acknowledged as an act of state of a highly political character, the sending of secret funds against the law could not be seen that way. But the idea behind President Roh Moo-hyun granting pardons as soon as the trials are over is to acknowledge that it was, in fact, an act of state.
This isn’t possible, unless the government holds no regard for the judiciary and the law. The Blue House explained that President Roh accepted the special counsel investigation as “a lesson that future assistance to the North should be legal and transparent.” But to talk of granting pardons before the charges are affirmed is to ignore legality and transparency. If something similar happens in the future, there would be no way to punish it, or prevent it. Perhaps the government itself wishes to provide less-than-transparent assistance to the North in the name of “acts of state.”
The only person being detained in relation to this case is Park Jie-won; the others have received either suspended sentences or monetary penalties. To talk of pardons is nothing but an election strategy to win the votes of the Jeolla people by appealing to Kim Dae-jung. How much confusion was caused by the less-than-transparent North Korea policies of the past governments? Must we cover everything up again because of the general elections?