[EDITORIALS]An abuse of power?The prosecution has decided against submitting investigation documents to the court. On Wednesday, the Seoul Central Prosecutors Office made it known that it would not submit its investigation records on a bribery case related to the reconstruction of an apartment complex to the court in advance. Prosecutors said they would reveal the truth of the case by questioning the defendant and witnesses in court. The defendant’s lawyers, however, opposed the decision, saying it could infringe on the defendant’s right to defend himself.
In response, the senior prosecutor in charge of the case explained that the decision was a countermeasure to the Supreme Court’s ruling that places more weight on precedents and the actual hearing in court. With trials changing from the method of using investigation records to litigation in court as the basis for determinations of guilt, the prosecution believed that it would also have to change its approach to cases.
This is true, but how will it be possible for lawyers to properly defend their clients without access to the documents? Even if the defendant pleads not guilty in court, it is the prosecution’s responsibility to maintain the arraignment through submitting proper evidence.
There are views that the recent incident is an emotional reaction by prosecutors as a result of the ongoing friction between them and the courts that occurred with subsequent rejections by the court to issue warrants. Even in this case alone, the prosecution’s request for a warrant against a defendant who had allegedly received bribes was turned down three times by the court.
In another recent case, prosecutors asked for warrants for suspects for their alleged involvement in treating ginseng with agricultural chemicals. But the court rejected warrants for 13 out of the 17 suspects. Prosecutorr denied the friction’s existence, but some of them sarcastically call the hearing-centered principle “court-centered.” We worry about the possibility that this might spread into an emotional battle between the court and prosecutors.
It is natural for prosecutors to adapt to changes in trial methods as criminals must not be allowed to take advantage of the changes. But failing to turn over the investigative papers without presenting any type of solution is an abuse of their powers. These emotional measures will only hurt the trust people have in prosecutors.