Let the cops investigate

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Let the cops investigate

In an alarming development of a probe into a corruption case involving a serving prosecutor, fellow prosecutors have launched a special investigation into the case after the police come up with all sorts of disturbing evidence. The prosecution’s coming in on the case can only fuel people’s deep-rooted distrust with them, and inevitably it will be seen as an attempt to protect one of their own. It also fans the flames of the controversy over the prosecutors’ control of investigations by the police. And no doubt it will lead to a deterioration of the already rotten relationship between the two law enforcement agencies.

It all began with the suspicion that a senior prosecutor surnamed Kim at the Seoul High Prosecutors’ Office had received about 840 million won ($722,000) in bribes from Cho Hee-pal, a legendary pyramid scheme con man, and from the Eugene Group, a construction company. The prosecutor in question is also suspected to have invested in stocks of companies together with other prosecutors and capitalizing on insider information. Up until the moment when the police dug up the dirt, however, the prosecution didn’t do anything about one of their own bad apples in what amounts to a colossal lack of self-policing.

As soon as news of the police’s investigation broke, a special prosecutor hurriedly launched a raid on the prosecutor’s office and home and the offices of Eugene Group. The police response to the prosecution’s over-the-top action has reached the point of a full-fledged confrontation.

The police’s digging up of alleged bribery of a prosecutor is retribution for the prosecution’s earlier move to bring to justice corrupt police officers who received bribes on a regular basis from the owner of “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” the largest room salon in Korea, in exchange for turning a blind eye to its dirty practices. Even if that’s true, we would welcome it as long as the two law enforcement agencies can cut the chain of injustice and corruption prevalent in the public domain. In fact, the police began a harsh self-examination since its shameful bribery scandal broke out earlier this year.

The prosecution has stopped way short of clearing citizens’ persistent suspicions about the never-ending corruption in its ranks. Prosecutors’ internal investigations into their colleagues’ dirtiness always fail to meet the people’s standards. With people’s trust hitting rock bottom - and with a new precedent that prosecutors, too, can be examined by the police - we urge the prosecution to revitalize itself through some painstaking soul searching.
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