[EDITORIALS]Lee probe raises questionsLee Yun-taek, chairman of the Korea Sports Council and Korea Olympic Committee, who is suspected of an illegal land transaction, held a press conference yesterday and proclaimed his innocence. He said the prosecution’s investigation was aimed at forcing him to withdraw as a candidate for reelection to the council chairmanship, and he said the investigation will not deter him from running.
The prosecution denied Mr. Lee’s claim, saying no political motivations exist behind the investigation. It said prosecutors have internally investigated him since last November, when he had not publicly announced that he would run for re-election. The prosecution said it attempted to summon him late last month and early this month but postponed the plan because of Mr. Lee’s overseas trips. And at his request, it delayed the summons until after the election, scheduled for Wednesday.
Mr. Lee was banned from traveling abroad and those around him were arrested at a sensitive point when the election is imminent. By this action, the case was released to the public through the press. Whatever the prosecution says, we question why it is now investigating the land transaction case, which took place five years ago.
What makes us more suspicious is that Kim Jung-kil, former government administration minister and President Roh Moo-hyun’s long-time friend, is running in the council chairman election. That is why the suspicion emerged that the prosecution began the investigation for political purposes.
Mr. Kim, who must be concerned about the case, said, “The prosecution under the Roh administration is something the Blue House cannot influence. And I believe the prosecution’s investigation of Mr. Lee will never help me.”
If Mr. Lee attempted to dodge the investigation as the prosecution claims, then it is wrong. The prosecution says Mr. Lee went abroad frequently, just submitting a couple of explanations about the case. We believe it would be proper for him to go to the prosecution to be investigated if he really is innocent, rather than claiming innocence by press conference.
The prosecution’s action this time could be misunderstood as influencing the election. We are still doubtful about why the investigation is taking place at this particular moment. We ask the prosecution to probe the case thoroughly after the election is over. We also ask Mr. Lee to cooperate with the prosecution.