[EDITORIALS]Prosecution, police thyselfThe inspection committee of the Justice Ministry recommended that the minister remove a senior prosecutor from his post immediately. The senior prosecutor is suspected of attempting to pressure an inspector during an influence-peddling investigation.
The ministry investigated the allegation earlier but said the decision on whether to punish the prosecutor would be delayed by one year because the statute of limitations had expired and bribery charge hadn’t been proved. But the committee, composed of people outside the ministry, recommended that the minister take strong action against the senior prosecutor.
In 2001, when the prosecutor in question was a deputy senior prosecutor at a provincial prosecution office, a representative of a department store was investigated. During the probe, it was suspected that the prosecutor tried to use his influence by calling the investigator in charge. The prosecutor later denied the allegation, saying, “After the investigation was closed, I met the investigator by chance and exchanged greetings, but I didn’t ask him a favor on behalf of the accused.”
But the investigator said that they met while the investigation was ongoing and that the prosecutor asked him for a favor. Moreover, he said that the prosecutor began an investigation that targeted him when he became the head of a local prosecution office the following year. It is difficult to say where the truth lies.
If a prosecutor made phone calls in connection with a case under investigation and met an investigator outside of his office, such actions pose a serious problem. Nevertheless, the prosecution was lenient with him in June last year on the pretext that the statute of limitations is over and that there is no evidence that he had put pressure on anyone.
According to the law regarding punishment for prosecutors, even an act of disgrace can draw a penalty. Because the internal investigation was insufficient, the prosecution brought in outside inspectors.
If prosecutors are lenient to insiders while harshly punishing outsiders, this is a big problem. Who then will monitor illegal acts committed by the prosecutors?
If the prosecution wants to claim it is independent, it should hold itself to a higher standard. However, politicians shouldn’t try to use this case as an excuse to violate the independence of the prosecution.