A wake-up call

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A wake-up call

Kim Min-seok, a member of the Democratic Party’s Supreme Council, decided not to appear in court for a hearing in which a judge was to review a detention warrant that prosecutors had sought against him. After an emergency meeting yesterday, the Democratic Party confirmed that it would refuse to cooperate with the legal actions against Kim.

Kim and the Democratic Party have only hurt themselves by not complying with legal procedure. As a matter of course, Kim pleads not guilty. He said that he received financial aid from someone as a favor unrelated to political intention. But prosecutors say that he clearly violated the law governing political donations, charging that he took 400 million won ($333,000) illegally.

It is up to the courts to make a judgment when there is a big discrepancy between two sides like this case. A hearing to review a warrant is a chance for a judge to listen to explanations from both parties directly. The hearing system was introduced to protect the rights of the accused.

If Kim is innocent as he says, he should have pleaded not guilty to the judge at the hearing. Political repression, as the Democratic Party argues, has nothing to do with the courts. If they think prosecutors discriminate against opposition party members, they should appeal to the courts all the more. Not appearing at the court hearing only implies guilt on Kim’s part.

According to a Democratic Party spokesman, Kim wanted to appear at the court hearing fairly and to fight to the end. But as the case also involved the party, he decided not to show up. If it is true, the party is sacrificing Kim for a political purpose. As long as Kim does not completely reject the legal process, it is obviously in his favor to comply with the court’s warrant review.

The people would not support a political party that sticks to obsolete tactics like muddling the law with politics. The results of Wednesday’s by-elections can be seen as a warning from voters. The Democratic Party was routed even in the midst of mounting criticism against the Lee Myung-bak administration.

It failed to win any seats, except for the uncontested one, in 14 constituencies. It even lost to the Democratic Labor Party in the party’s home ground, Yeosu, South Jeolla.

This should prove to the Democratic Party that the people no longer see it as an alternative. Kim should appear in court today to avoid detention and for the party to present a refurbished look.

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