Unwise immunity

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Unwise immunity

Lawmakers have violated this nation’s laws. The National Assembly did not vote on the prosecutors’ request to arrest Moon Kook-hyun, a seated lawmaker and the head of the Creative Korea Party. The legislature has violated the law governing it in order to protect a lawmaker accused of corruption. With no approval, the prosecution had no choice but to indict Moon yesterday without questioning him, not even once. The statute of limitations expires tomorrow, and the prosecutors had no luxury of time.

Moon had consistently ignored the law enforcement authorities. According to the prosecutors, Moon allegedly received 600 million won ($448,598) from Rep. Lee Han-jung on the eve of the April elections in return for guaranteeing him a proportional representation seat.

Moon is suspected of violating a clause of the election law created last February that bans bribery related to candidate nominations. Lee, the alleged briber, submitted to the investigation and was tried. He was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison.

In contrast, Moon ignored all nine summonses from the prosecution. As the National Assembly began its session, the prosecution asked the legislature for permission to arrest Moon because he has immunity from arrest during a session. The motion to arrest Moon was submitted to the Assembly after a court and the president approved it. The last step is the legislature’s vote.

The National Assembly, however, has not yet advanced the motion to the main session. As a result, Moon has not appeared at the prosecution for questioning.

Moon’s attitude over this matter is extremely different from the “clean politics” that he has argued for. Even the old school political parties, which Moon has long criticized, no longer sell nominations.

A similar incident only happened in the Pro-Park United, a political party hastily formed before the legislative elections. Suh Chung-won, head of that party, has already been convicted.

Only Moon refuses to cooperate with the prosecution, calling the investigation “political oppression.” The National Assembly is even more problematic. Moon’s attitude is a matter of his personal qualities as an individual, but the legislature’s practice of protecting him is a selfish group action, ignoring the basic order of democracy. The Constitution guarantees a lawmaker’s immunity in order to protect legislative activities from oppression. It never meant to help a lawmaker avoid a corruption investigation.

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