[EDITORIALS]Leave prosecutors aloneThe Justice Ministry and the prosecution are at odds. The prosecution did not report to the ministry in advance about its request for arrest warrants for organizers of the candlelight rallies protesting the impeachment of President Roh Moo-hyun. The ministry said it would investigate why the prosecution did not report its plans; prosecutors are resisting the ministry, saying that requests for arrest warrants should not be reported to the ministry in advance.
The conflict surfaced last Friday when the prosecution asked for arrest warrants for four organizers of the rally. The ministry’s position is that the prosecution violated the ministry’s regulation that obliges the prosecution to report to the ministry on matters that would be likely to cause social unrest, or on moves of civic groups or political parties that could hurt social order. But the prosecution claimed that it had reported to the ministry when it requested the warrants for the four organizers. They also pointed out that reporting to the ministry every detail is a practice of Korea’s past military regimes in which the government controlled the prosecution.
We are not interested in whether the prosecution really reported to the ministry or whether the prosecution violated the ministry’s regulation. Those are matters that should be handled between and within the ministry and the prosecution.
This is an issue that the ministry should take care of without a fuss. This is not a matter that requires the ministry’s approval, so the ministry’s steps to punish the prosecution are an overreaction. Overstating the case will not help anyone. Indeed, this is why the prosecutor-general resisted the ministry, saying, “If the ministry has something to investigate, then it should investigate me directly, not rank-and-file prosecutors.”
The ministry and the prosecution already have been in several conflicts about measures to punish prosecutors, the transfer of oversight of the prosecution to the ministry and the handling of Song Du-yul, a Korean-German scholar who is on trial for violating the National Security Law.
We suspect that the ministry may have wanted to protect those who opposed the impeachment.
The ministry should let the prosecution be politically independent.