[EDITORIALS]A politician’s suicide

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[EDITORIALS]A politician’s suicide

Busan’s mayor, Ahn Sang-young, who had been detained by the prosecution on bribery charges and was being tried, committed suicide yesterday morning at the Busan detention center.
Mr. Ahn’s sudden death confuses us. When the nation is already in confusion with its bad economy and illegal campaign financing scandal, Mr. Ahn, the head of a local government, chose an extreme measure.
Officials at the center said Mr. Ahn, whose health had deteriorated because of his three-month detention, committed suicide because of psychological suffering and depression after additional charges that he received bribes from a business surfaced recently.
But suspicions linger about his death. First, we wonder why Mr. Ahn, who has denied the charges against him, committed suicide five days before the court was scheduled to announce its verdict on Monday. If he wanted to vindicate himself, he should have waited for the court’s decision.
Another thing that needs to be clarified is the opposition party’s charges that prosecutors charged Mr. Ahn with the crimes because he rejected a request from President Roh Moo-hyun for political cooperation.
If that claim by the Grand National Party is true, and the administration was responding to Mr. Ahn’s refusal to help it shore up its political base in the southeast, it would mean that the administration is far from “new politics” and the political reform measures it has touted. The truth behind those suspicions should be found.
But politicians should not exploit Mr. Ahn’s death politically. It is not a pleasant scene for us to watch the opposition and ruling parties try to pass the buck to each other before the next legislative elections.
Mr. Ahn is said to have been detained in an isolated cell in the part of the facility used for sick inmates. Only one officer was on duty on each floor, which had ten rooms, at night. Supervision of the facility was lax.
The Ministry of Justice and the prosecution must find out the truth behind Mr. Ahn’s death so that any suspicions can be cleared away. If Mr. Ahn was investigated in an unduly harsh manner, those responsible should be punished. So should supervisors at the facility if they were too casual about security.
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