DP erupts over prosecutors

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DP erupts over prosecutors

As the Grand National Party leaned toward opposing a lawmakers’ plan to shut down an elite prosecution unit, the opposition Democratic Party condemned the ruling party, labeling it a puppet of the Blue House.

The Grand National Party yesterday decided that the plan to deprive the investigative authority of the Central Investigation Unit of the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office won’t be voted on during this month’s legislative session. Instead, the ruling party will seek to extend the mandate of the special judicial reform committee, scheduled to expire by the end of this month, in order to discuss alternatives such as opening a new government office to probe public servants’ crimes.

The decisions were made at the general lawmakers’ assembly and a meeting of GNP members on the judicial reform special committee.

“A majority of the GNP lawmakers said it is undesirable to shut down the Central Investigation Unit at this sensitive time,” said Representative Joo Seong-young, a member of the special committee.

“The public’s opinion of the plan grew worse, criticizing the lawmakers for attempting to shut down the unit to stop investigations on the politicians over the savings bank corruption scandal. It is, therefore, impossible to shut down the unit during this month’s session,” said Joo.

Representative Lee Doo-ah, a GNP spokeswoman, said 15 out of 16 lawmakers who spoke at the lawmakers’ assembly opposed the planned shutdown of the unit.

“Other than the Central Investigation Unit, who among financial authorities, the Board of Audit and Inspection, the Blue House and politicians, are capable of investigating corruption by powerful people?” said Representative Park Jun-seon, a former prosecutor.

“Over the past 30 years, the unit has sometimes been criticized for supporting the administration, but it mostly performed a positive role by fighting grand evils,” said Park.

In April, the ruling and opposition lawmakers on the special committee on judicial reform agreed in principle to shut down the prosecution’s powerful and controversial unit, whose political neutrality has been continually questioned, but delayed the action until this month.

Last week, a subpanel of the committee said it will press ahead with the plan to scrap the unit, despite strong opposition by prosecutors.

A group of Busan Savings Bank depositors have also protested the shutdown of the unit.

They said they cannot trust financial regulators’ oversight of the corrupt bank, demanding the prosecution go ahead with the probe.

As the Grand Nationals leaned toward overturning the decision yesterday, the Democratic Party fiercely criticized the ruling party for submitting to the Blue House’s pressure.

The presidential office has reacted unfavorably to the legislature’s attempt to shut down the elite unit, asking the ruling party on Monday to “handle the matter prudently.”

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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