Police protest jurisdiction revision

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Police protest jurisdiction revision


Officers from police agencies across the country listen to Lee Un-ju, head of the investigation reform task force of the National Police Agency, talk about new investigation guidelines at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency yesterday. [YONHAP]

The police have officially declared that they won’t open preliminary investigations on cases that prosecutors ordered the police to conduct, in protest to a presidential decree that the police say grants too much authority to the prosecution.

The Prime Minister’s Office initially announced the jurisdiction for criminal investigations that extended prosecutors’ jurisdiction over investigations on Nov. 23. It was passed at a Cabinet meeting held at the Blue House on Dec. 27 despite strong opposition from the police.

The National Police Agency said yesterday that it conveyed its own revised guideline to all investigative police agencies in Korea which states that the police may refuse running a preliminary investigation on cases that are brought to the prosecution or that already have been started by the prosecution. The police agency said the decision was made based on two articles of the presidential decree that went into effect on Jan. 1.

The two articles are: Article 78, which reads “the prosecution’s authority to open or close a case can only be exercised when the case is in danger of abusing the human rights of people who are involved in the case,” and Article 80, which reads “the police can designate whether a case is in the preliminary stage or in the official stage for taking supervision from the prosecution.”

The guideline, which the National Police Agency issued, said “all investigative police agencies should refuse to run preliminary investigations if the case has been petitioned to the prosecution or the prosecution already has run preliminary investigations by themselves.”

The police said the decision was made because a preliminary investigation is not an official investigation which takes place before the case becomes a full-blown criminal investigation.

“It’s not right to order the police to run another preliminary investigation that already has been investigated by the prosecution,” Cho Hyun-oh, the commissioner of National Police Agency, said during a press conference regarding a case where the Suseong District Police refused to run a preliminary investigation on a case that was petitioned to the Daegu District Prosecutors’ Office.

On Monday, the Suseong police were ordered to run the preliminary investigation by the prosecutors’ office over a corruption case in a residential land development project in Sang-dong, Suseong District, but refused to do it.

“We followed the guideline that we’ve received from the National Police Agency,” Park Sang-Ki, the chief investigator at the Suseong District Police said. “We refused to run the preliminary investigation because the case has already been handled by the prosecution.”

The prosecution interpreted this action as a protest against the revised investigation jurisdiction because the police always have run such preliminary investigations in past.

“When the prosecution orders the police to run the investigation, it necessarily means running only preliminary investigations,” a prosecutor at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office said about the corruption case in Daegu.

By Lee Dong-hyun, Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]
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