Jurisdiction fight between police, prosecutors rages

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Jurisdiction fight between police, prosecutors rages

The conflict between police and prosecutors over revised jurisdiction for criminal investigation is heating up again.

Prosecutors yesterday said that the police’s investigation on an incumbent prosecutor surnamed Park is retaliation by the police over the revised jurisdiction, which has empowered prosecutors to control the police’s entire investigation process.

On Thursday, an investigator surnamed Jeong, 30, at the Milyang Police Precinct filed a lawsuit against prosecutor Park, 37, at the Changwon District Prosecutors’ Office in South Gyeongsang for abuse of power.

The investigator said that prosecutor Park ordered Jeong not to expand the investigation because the case was “attracting the interest of the higher authorities of the prosecution.”

Jeong also insisted that he was insulted several times by Park when he was investigating the case.

“It’s such an absurd accusation from the police,” the Changwon District Prosecutors’ Office told media through a press release.

“Prosecutor Park ordered Jeong to stop the investigation because he was accused by a suspect of violating the suspect’s human rights. In addition, he failed to provide evidence that is necessary to punish the suspect even though he has been running the investigation for over seven months.”

The prosecution added that Park even approved the police’s request to raid the suspect’s office, but failed to secure evidence.

“We can’t understand why the prosecution has announced its official stance for a case that police are investigating,” a spokesman of the National Police Agency said.

“They have to provide evidence that can prove the prosecutor’s every allegation wrong to the nation before they announce their official stance.”

In October, the police said, Jeong booked the CEO of a waste disposal corporation without detention after detecting that the corporation had been illegally burying industrial sludge in rice paddies.

The case was then transferred to the Changwon prosecutors’ office, but the CEO was released on bail only a month later.

Jeong said that he tried to continue the investigation after securing evidence including bank statements that demonstrate the CEO tried to conceal the case with a bribe of 84.5 million won ($75,141) over three years to a local newspaper reporter.

Jeong filed a warrant to detain the reporter at the prosecutors’ office, but Park, who was in the charge for the case, rejected the request, telling Jeong that he needed more evidence in order to indict the reporter.

In addition, Jeong insisted that prosecutor Park played down the case after the CEO hired former prosecutors who had worked in the Changwon office, telling Jeong several times in November, “the case is such a burden for me because it is getting heavy attention from high-ranking authorities, so don’t expand the case anymore.”

Jeong said that he was told to stop the investigation when he visited Park’s office on Jan. 20 to discuss it. Park said “How dare you not follow my order?” and “Do you want me to speak with your boss?”

Jeong later posted the story on the bulletin board of the National Police Agency’s intra-network, and requested that its commissioner Cho Hyun-oh investigate the case.

“I decided to step up because I don’t want to live like a coward. I desperately request the commissioner to resolve this,” the post read.

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