Prosecutor general seeks to resign

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Prosecutor general seeks to resign

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Prosecutor General Kim Joon-gyu yesterday announces his intention to resign in protest. [YONHAP]

Prosecutor General Kim Joon-gyu announced yesterday his intention to resign from his post to protest the National Assembly’s last-minute change of a reform measure, which prosecutors see as an infringement of their investigative independence.

“The key to this crisis is the breach of an agreement,” Kim said in a statement released yesterday afternoon. “A promise must be kept and an agreement must be implemented as it is. When an agreement or a promise is broken, someone must take responsibility.

“The agreement was signed by the leaders of the major government offices and put into a document,” Kim said. “When this public agreement was not kept, what promises can possibly be respected in our country?”

What Kim referred to was the agreement reached on June 24 after months of dispute on how to redistribute investigative powers between police and prosecutors. Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik, National Police Agency Commissioner Cho Hyun-oh, Justice Minister Lee Kwi-nam and Blue House Chief of Staff Yim Tae-hee agreed during a mediation session on changes to be made on the Criminal Procedure Law.

The National Assembly approved the revision on Thursday, giving prosecutors the power to supervise all investigations conducted by the police. The lawmakers, however, inserted a new provision that said how they supervise will be decided by a presidential decree to be drawn up in the future, prompting furor by prosecutors.

Kim still said what was approved by the National Assembly must be respected, although the prosecution feels bitter about the last-minute change.

Expressing his intention to resign, Kim said he will be the only prosecutor to leave over the conflict, turning down resignations submitted by senior prosecutors last week to protest the legislature’s decision.

“Before leaving office, I will exercise my authority as the prosecutor general for one last time and reject all prosecutors’ resignations,” said Kim, urging prosecutors to focus on the ongoing investigation of the savings bank crisis.

Kim expressed his intention to leave the prosecution with 46 days left before his term ends on Aug. 19. Because President Lee Myung-bak was out of the country, no immediate action was taken to accept or reject the resignation.

Prime Minister Kim made clear that the prosecutor general’s action was inappropriate.

“It is wrong for a public servant to tender his resignation when the president is in South Africa,” Kim was quoted as saying by his spokesman Yu Seong-sik. “Kim must serve his duty fully until the president decides on his fate.”

In an apparent move to play down the political significance of Kim’s action, the Blue House chose to ignore the situation.

According to Blue House spokesman Park Jeong-ha, Lee showed no reaction to the report about Kim’s decision to leave. Talking to journalists in South Africa, Park said the matter will be discussed once the president returns to the country, refraining to comment further.

Asked if the Blue House will not accept Kim’s resignation until his term ends, Park said, “I have no information about that.”

Other senior officials in the Blue House also ignored Kim’s resignation because his term was practically over.

“He was going to be replaced soon anyway, so what’s the meaning of this?” a Blue House official said.

Another source told Yonhap News Agency that Kim’s action was like ending the life support of a patient who will die in a few days.

Kim is one of the country’s many top prosecutors who left office before their tenure formally ends. To guarantee independence from political pressure, the two-year tenure for a prosecutor general was introduced in 1988.

Since then, only six of the 16 prosecutors general have completed their terms.

While some left the prosecution to become justice ministers, such as Kim Doo-hee and Kim Tae-joung, many left due to conflicts with the administration or to assume responsibility for failed investigations.

Kim Kak-young, who began his term as the prosecutor general in November 2002, resigned from the post in March 2003 to protest then-President Roh Moo-hyun’s remarks that he did not trust prosecution leadership.

Kim Jong-bin also stepped down from the prosecutor general post in October 2005, only six months into his term, to protest Justice Minister Chun Jung-bae’s order to not physically detain sociologist Kang Jeong-koo during the prosecution’s probe into his alleged National Security Law violation.

Kim’s resignation at the time was seen as a protest against the justice minister’s unprecedented supervision over the probe, which many prosecutors see as a violation of their political neutrality.


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

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]
대통령 외유 중 전례없는 사표 … 통치권 상처 낸 김준규
“나쁜 전통 만들지 말고 남아서 수습하라”는 MB 지시 정면 거부

김준규 검찰총장이 4일 “검경 수사권 조정 합의안이 국회에서 파기된 데 대해 책임을 지고 총장직에서 사퇴하겠다”며 법무부에 사표를 제출했다. 취임(2009년 8월 20일) 이후 22개월여 만이다. 사정기관 ‘빅4’(국정원장·검찰총장·경찰청장·국세청장) 중 하나인 검찰의 최고책임자가 대통령 외유 중에 사표를 제출한 것은 전례가 없는 일이다. ‘책임을 지겠다’는 말과는 달리 검찰 총수로서 무책임한 행동이라는 지적이 나오고 있다.

 정부의 한 고위 관계자는 “사정기관의 최일선 기관장은 책임이 막중하기 때문에 임명권자 부재 시 사표를 낼 자유도, 내지 않을 자유도 사실상 없는 것”이라고 비판했다. 특히 지난 1일 세계검찰총장회의에 참석한 이명박 대통령이 “그런(사표를 내고 나가는) 나쁜 전통을 만들지 말고 남아서 사태를 책임지고 수습하라”고 한 지시를 정면으로 어겼다는 얘기도 나온다. 인사권자의 결정을 듣지 않아 통치권에 상처를 입혔다는 것이다. 현 정부가 사정기관장을 제대로 통제하지 못하고 있음을 반증한 것이라는 분석마저 나온다. 청와대와 국무총리실 측은 불쾌감을 숨기지 않았다. 남아프리카공화국 더반에서 평창 유치 지원 활동을 벌이고 있는 이 대통령은 사표 제출 소식을 보고받고 “아무런 표정 변화도, 말도 없었다”고 박정하 청와대 대변인이 전했다. 청와대 참모들은 “이 대통령이 불편한 심기를 드러낸 것”이라고 설명했다. 한 참모는 임기가 불과 40여 일 남은 걸 두고 “내일모레 죽을 사람이 응급실에서 인공호흡기 떼는 게 무슨 소용이 있느냐”고 했다. 김황식 국무총리도 “정부에서 충분히 논의를 거쳐 국회에서 이뤄진 법률 개정에 대해 합의를 깬 것이라고 언급한 것은 매우 유감스럽다”고 말했다고 유성식 총리실 공보실장이 전했다.

 이에 앞서 김 총장은 이날 오후 대검찰청 8층 회의실에서 가진 회견에서 “이번 사태의 핵심은 (형사소송법 절충안의 내용이) 대통령령이냐 법무부령이냐의 문제라기보다, ‘합의의 파기’에 있다”고 강조했다. 다음은 김 총장의 발표문 요지.

 “ 장관들과 검찰총장, 경찰청장 등이 최고 국가기관 내에서 합의를 해 문서에 서명까지 하고 국민에게 공개한 약속마저 안 지켜진다면 어떤 합의와 약속이 지켜질 수 있겠느냐. 약속은 반드시 지켜져야 한다. ‘Pacta Sunt Servanda·팍타 순트 세르반다’(※약속은 반드시 지켜야 한다는 라틴어) 아무도 책임지지 않으면 저라도 책임지겠다. 검찰총장의 마지막 권한 행사로 여러분들의(※사표를 낸 홍만표 대검 기획조정부장과 사의를 표명한 김홍일 대검중수부장 등 대검 간부 4명) 사직서와 사퇴 의사를 모두 반려한다. 저축은행 비리 수사의 끝장을 봐 달라. 사퇴는 이미 결심했었다. 국제회의장에 웃으며 서 있었지만, 속으로는 ‘간’이 녹아 날 정도로 힘들었다.”

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