The prosecutors’ prudence

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The prosecutors’ prudence

A subcommittee of the special legislative committee on judicial reforms agreed last Friday to abrogate the right of the Supreme Prosecutors Office’s Central Investigation Department to investigate high-profile crimes. The prosecution strongly resisted the National Assembly’s decision, referring to it as an attempt to “take a sword from a general in a war” against a massive corruption scandal involving the Busan Saving Bank Group.

Prosecutors had a top-level emergency meeting yesterday to discuss ways to cope with the legislative body’s sudden assault. The CID’s decision yesterday to take a day off from its ongoing investigation into secret lobbying by high-ranking officials has led people to wonder if it really took the action in protest of the legislative body’s latest offensive.

The special committee, meanwhile, criticized prosecutors for their unprecedented strike, calling it a “concoction to avoid our reform effort.” Both the ruling Grand National Party and opposition Democratic Party are discussing ways to transform the existing special prosecutor system into a standing body (as the GNP argues) or to establish a special investigation agency (as the DP insists) as an alternative to the CID.

However, both groups’ head-on collision raises our concern. Even if political parties reached an agreement, their desire to eliminate the CID’s investigative powers will most likely affect the ongoing investigation into the scandal. The legislators’ move to deprive the CID of its pivotal powers can also attract much suspicion at a critical moment when the scandal is on the verge of expanding in the political arena.

The latest influence-peddling fiasco vividly illustrates how far-reaching it is. As it turns out, the Financial Supervisory Service, the Financial Services Commission and auditors at the Board of Audit and Inspection all provided cover for corruption-ridden banks they were supposed to be overseeing.

That illustrates how important it is for us to devise a special investigative body in charge of corruption in the official realm.

Prosecutors cannot dispel suspicion that they are dragging their feet in investigating the scandal to keep the CID’s investigative powers intact. They must investigate the debacle without succumbing to any political pressure. A mistake could make their investigation futile in what could be recorded as one of the biggest scandals occurring under the current administration. Both prosecutors and lawmakers should act prudently.
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