[EDITORIALS]Army must disclose the factsThe investigation into alleged influence-peddling in personnel appointments in the army has taken a strange turn. Three military prosecutors have asked to be dismissed. In response, the Ministry of Defense has announced that it will strictly discipline the prosecutors for “breaching military discipline.”
The prosecutors claimed the defense minister, in effect, obstructed the investigation of generals who could face corruption charges through such methods as refusing to approve requests for detention warrants. The ministry, on the other hand, claims the warrant requests were rejected because the prosecutors did not provide sufficient grounds for such requests and that it had merely ordered further investigations to back up the requests.
Many expected the frenzy over the probe to simmer down after President Roh Moo-hyun’s public warning to army headquarters and military prosecutors not to leak information to the media, but the situation seems only to have gotten bigger. This makes it look like the supreme commander’s orders have been ignored.
Above all, the army must disclose the facts surrounding the three military prosecutors’ requests for dismissals. What the prosecutors did is rash and irresponsible, considering the unique characteristics of the army, where the establishment of a strict chain of command is vital.
The prosecutors’ requests could also be seen as a rebellion against the authority vested by law in the defense minister to supervise and command the military prosecution. But there are those who sympathize with the prosecutors and claim that they actually found clues to irregularities involving the army’s leadership.
However, there are many dubious points about the military prosecution’s investigation into the affair so far. The fact that they have consistently fed the media information about the “allegations” is one of these points. The prosecution should know that the public could see the dismissal requests as a flimsy threat to dispel criticism for the lack of progress in the investigation.
It would now be wise for the Defense Ministry to disclose all the facts and details about this investigation. The ministry should make clear whether the prosecutors’ claim was right and the minister had in fact obstructed the investigation, or whether the prosecutors were merely leaking false rumors for their own sake.