After scandals, Lee orders shake-up

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After scandals, Lee orders shake-up

President Lee Myung-bak yesterday ordered an overhaul of the country’s prosecution, police and other law enforcement agencies, following an illegal surveillance case and corruption scandals that have triggered a huge stir in the country.

Scores of prosecutors have been accused of regularly receiving cash and sexual entertainment as bribes from businesspeople, prompting the government to launch an independent probe into the allegations.

A police station in Seoul is also suspected of torturing detainees to get confessions, while officials of the Prime Minister’s Office are being investigated for conducting illegal investigations of civilians critical of the government.

In a message to the office of Kwon Jae-jin, senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, Lee ordered that it “examine operations of major investigative government agencies, and draw up measures for improvement,” Hong Sang-pyo, Lee’s senior secretary for public affairs, told reporters.

“A variety of problems within investigative agencies, including the one called ‘surveillance,’ have been exposed and reported to the media,” Hong said. “From our point of view, some of them have been exaggerated, but as a government we can’t just sit on our hands about these matters.”

The presidential office expects the overhaul will help end public disquiet over the corruption allegations and strengthen discipline in law enforcement agencies, Hong added.

With the exception of the National Intelligence Service, the review will cover a broad range of major government agencies with investigative powers as well as the police and the prosecution, officials said.

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