Justice Ministry discharges 2 Busan prosecutors

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Justice Ministry discharges 2 Busan prosecutors

Two of the 10 prosecutors who allegedly accepted bribes from the owner of a Busan construction company were discharged from their posts on Thursday.

The Justice Ministry disciplinary committee’s decision to discharge Park Ki-joon, the head of the Busan Prosecutors’ Office, and Han Seung-cheol, former chief inspector at the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office, came immediately under fire.

The discharge means the pair will be able to open their own legal offices once they leave their public posts. A dismissal - the punishment the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office’s special investigative committee had recommended for six of the 10 lawyers - would have barred them from practicing law for three years.

Prosecutors who break the law can face dismissal, removal from office, pay cuts, suspension or reprimand, in order of severity. One official from the ministry who asked not to be named said removal was severe enough.

“This matter could have been ended by suspending them or slashing their salary, but the disciplinary committee members raised the punishment level and discharged them because of the current public atmosphere,” he said.

A Busan-based businessman surnamed Jeong named Park and Han when he told MBC’s “PD Diary” that he had bribed dozens of attorneys over decades with cash, gifts, meals and sex-worker services in return for keeping him out of legal trouble.

The special committee that investigated the accusations concluded both men accepted Jeong’s offers of meals and drinks in room salons, and Han took 1 million won ($822) in cash. The committee said the men tried to cover up the scandal when Jeong asked Busan prosecutors to investigate.

The Justice Ministry’s disciplinary committee will meet again soon to determine punishment for the other eight prosecutors.

By Kim Mi-ju, Hong Hye-jin [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]
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