Prosecutors may be dismissed
Prosecutors enmeshed in the Busan bribery scandal could face dismissal and a three-year ban from practicing law if Prosecutor General Kim Joon-gyu acts on the recommendations yesterday by a special investigating committee.
One committee official told reporters that “at least three or four prosecutors are likely to face dismissal or a similar serious measure.” The committee also urged Kim to move seven other prosecutors out of their current positions, and reprimand another 28.
Kim’s office has not yet made any comment on the committee’s recommendations. But even as the committee announced the results of its six-week probe, critics argued that its recommendations were too light given the growing public anger and distrust of the prosecution.
“The ‘sponsor prosecutors’ broke the law, and they should have faced criminal charges for their wrongdoings,” rather than disciplinary measures, the Democratic Party said in a press release.
The investigation was launched in April after MBC’s “PD Diary” aired an episode in which a construction company owner named Jeong, who has since been convicted of fraud, said that he gave gifts, cash, meals and even sex-worker services to prosecutors in the Busan and Gyeongsang area for more than 20 years in return for favors.
Sung Nak-in, the Seoul National University law professor who headed the investigating committee, acknowledged yesterday that “some of Jeong’s allegations were true.”
The investigators confirmed that Park Ki-joon, head of the Busan District Prosecutors’ Office, and Han Seung-cheol, former chief inspector at the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office, are two of the men they recommend be dismissed. They said both accepted Jeong’s offers of meals and drinks in room salons, and Han accepted 1 million won ($800) in cash.
Nonetheless, the investigators said they decided not to ask the prosecutor general to press criminal charges against Park and Han, as they couldn’t prove that Jeong’s offers were “in return for favors.”
But the committee said both Park and Han tried to cover up the scandal by taking no action when Jeong pressed for an investigation of his claims, and intentionally neglected their duty to report his complaint to Supreme Public Prosecutors.
The committee said they also found concrete evidence that one Busan prosecutor, whom they did not name, had sex with a prostitute paid off by Jeong, and have asked the prosecutor general to press criminal charges against him.
Sung said the investigation was limited by Jeong’s refusal to cooperate with the team. But he added that his committee and investigators did everything they could to unearth the truth about all of his charges, which cover a period of 25 years.
The committee also urged the prosecution to take reform measures to enhance its reputation and restore public confidence. It specifically asked that the prosecutor general not replace Han with an incumbent prosecutor, to avoid another cover-up.
By Kim Mi-ju, Lee Chul-jae [email@example.com]