Four Busan prosecutors indicted in bribe scandal

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Four Busan prosecutors indicted in bribe scandal

An independent counsel investigating two decades of alleged bribery by a string of Busan prosecutors indicted four prosecutors yesterday, including Han Seung-cheol, former chief inspector at the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office, on charges of dereliction of duty and pocketing millions of won from a Busan-based construction company owner surnamed Jeong.

According to investigators, Han accepted 2.4 million won ($2,095) in bribes from Jeong on different occasions last year, including meals, booze sessions and 1 million won in cash.

When Jeong asked prosecutors to investigate, the independent counsel said that Han tried to cover up the scandal by not reporting it to Prosecutor General Kim Joon-gyu.

But the independent counsel’s investigation team is facing criticism for failing to indict former and current prosecutors whom Jeong identified as receiving bribes on the MBC current affairs program “PD Diary” in April. The bribes were to protect Jeong from legal hassles.

The independent counsel officially began its investigation in August after a committee under the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office in June fired only two of the 10 prosecutors who allegedly accepted bribes, stirring public anger. Prosecutors investigated 100 individuals named by Jeong.

Although Jeong accused Park Ki-joon, then-head of the Busan Prosecutors’ Office, of accepting cash, meals and boozing parties for two decades, Park was cleared because investigators failed to find concrete evidence and the statute of limitations had expired.

The independent counsel this week considered indicting Vice Justice Minister Hwang Hee-chul for dereliction of duty, but he was cleared of the charge yesterday. Jeong accused Hwang of deliberately keeping mum about the alleged bribery even after he faxed Hwang on Feb. 1. Prosecutors failed to find fax records.

Meanwhile, a local women’s rights organizations held a press conference yesterday in front of the office of the independent counsel and said they were disappointed with the probe result. Aside from meals and drinking sessions, Jeong also said he paid for prostitutes for prosecutors, which the women protested.

By Kim Mi-ju, Hong Hye-jin []
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