Law agencies losing sight of ballThe police and prosecution are currently at odds over a sensitive case of in-fighting between the nation’s law enforcement bodies that has resulted in the unprecedented measure of the former summoning the latter for questioning, under the full glare of media spotlight.
It all began with a prosecutor at the Changwon District Prosecutors’ Office allegedly ordering a local police officer to hush up the results of his investigation into a waste disposal company in Miryang, South Gyeongsang. Apparently motivated by his belief that the prosecutor insulted him verbally, the officer persuaded the Miryang police to file a lawsuit against the prosecutor for abusing his power by demanding that details of the probe be covered up. At the same time as the lawsuit was being prepared, the police officer disclosed details of the affair over the police’s internal communication network, and these were somehow leaked to the press.
The Miryang police’s next move was to try and summon the prosecutor for questioning by its officers, but at recent news conference, he announced that has no intention of obliging. Furthermore, the prosecutor’s office has leaked to the press its suspicion that the police agency is deliberately targeting the prosecutor as retaliation for one of his recent investigations. This saw him probe a lawmaker who sided with the police several months ago, when the two sides were involved in another spat over their respective investigative rights.
Meanwhile, the Changwon District Prosecutors’ Office added that the prosecutor had not tried to cover up the case involving the waste disposal company, but rather had tried to dissuade the police from abusing the owner’s human rights by excessively hounding him. Ironically, prosecutors claimed it was the police officer, not the prosecutor, who had abused his power. The office also reportedly said the prosecutor is considering charging the police for defaming his name and prestige, while the police agency responded by suggesting that the district prosecution office had acted improperly.
The affair has poured more fuel on the fire after the two law enforcement agencies went at each other’s throats over a recent case involving a prosecutor who resigned after hinting that she was pressured by the husband of former Seoul mayoral candidate Na Kyung-won, who is a judge, to indict a blogger who criticized his wife.
It is not clear who is to blame in the latest case, but it must be resolved quickly, free of self-serving interests and with a focus on the truth rather than on an immature media slander campaign.