Righting the prosecution

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Righting the prosecution

The allegations against former National Tax Service Commissioner Han Sang-yool continue to add up. Han flew to the U.S. in March, just two months after he resigned his post, and he hasn’t yet returned. His U.S. visa expired on Sept. 15, but he had it renewed.

Late last month, Han held a press conference in the U.S. and refuted all of the allegations against him, including the accusation that he bribed his predecessor Jun Gun-pyo with a painting in exchange for a promotion.

Han refused to make any comments on offering the painting to Jun. Later, it turned out that Han’s staff purchased the painting for 5 million won ($4,300).

Taking all of this into account, it will be impossible for prosecutors to launch an investigation into Han.

Han stands accused of four major allegations, including bribing Jun to win his support for his promotion and requesting that Ahn Won-koo, a senior tax official, get him 300 million won.

Ahn recently claimed that Han had pressured him to come up with 300 million won at the end of 2007 to bribe high-level officials, and Ahn was offered a promotion in exchange.

There are also questions about whether Han used the 300 million won to bribe high-level officials and whether Ahn received requests from powerful figures to drop the tax probe into Taekwang Industrial Chairman Park Yeon-cha.

Ahn was indicted on Tuesday on charges of pressuring construction companies to buy artworks at his wife’s art gallery in exchange for dropping or limiting tax probes against them.

Prosecutors have plenty of reasons to summon Han. Yet they haven’t even asked a court for a warrant to arrest him.

Some prosecutors even say that they can’t see the 5 million won painting as a bribe, but that’s nonsense, especially when we consider that an elementary school headmaster was indicted on charges of taking 2 million won in bribes in exchange for a promotion earlier this month. The discrepancies in the way prosecutors are handling their cases has caused unnecessary confusion.

Han told journalists that he’s not considering coming back to Korea at this point.

However, what prosecutors need to do now is request that the U.S. government extradite Han so he can be summoned and an investigation can be conducted.

This is the only way to dispel the public’s growing suspicions about the prosecutors’ integrity.

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