Retired police urge action on criminal jurisdiction
As an incumbent prosecutor has been detained for taking hundreds of millions of won in bribes, retired police officers are calling for presidential candidates to reform the jurisdiction over criminal investigations.
The Korea National Police Veteran Association yesterday held a press conference at the Central City Millennium Hall in Banpo-dong, southern Seoul, demanding the three primary presidential candidates; Park Geun-hye from the ruling Saenuri Party, Moon Jae-in from the main opposition Democratic United Party and independent candidate Ahn Cheol-soo clarify their stances on the issue.
About 2,000 veteran police officers were gathered at the conference.
The three presidential candidates as well as Kim Ki-yong, commissioner of the National Police Agency, and Ha Kum-loul, chief of the presidential staff, also attended the conference.
“It is ridiculous that prosecutors have all authority over indictments, warrant requests and command of investigations,” the retired police officers said at the conference.
“This structure encourages corruption and abuse of power in the prosecution.”
On Monday night, Kim Gwang-jun, a senior prosecutor for the Seoul High Prosecutors’ Office, was detained for taking about 970 million won ($896,000) in bribes from Eugene Group and Cho Hee-pal, a pyramid scheme con man, in 2008, when he was a prosecutor at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office.
Kim has become a symbol of the jurisdiction conflict between the police and the prosecution after the prosecutors told the police, which began the investigation before the prosecutors, to back away from the case.
Since the criminal procedure code was revised in January, the prosecution has jurisdiction over all police investigations. The police don’t like that change and they are refusing to step down from the Kim case.
“In order to run criminal investigations fairly and transparently, the government needs to spread out the two investigation agencies’ power like other advanced countries, so they can counterbalance each other,” a spokesman for the Korea National Police Veteran Association told reporters. “If the separation of power happens, the nation will not suspect prosecutors of trying to cover up for corrupt colleagues anymore.”
The association also demanded presidential candidates provide measures over issues related to national security.
Koo Jae-tae, chairman of the association, said, “The presidential candidates who are currently saying that they want to be the president, to devote oneself to protect the nation’s rights and safety, must clarify their stance over an issue of rooting out pro-North influences.”
They also demanded the candidates clarify their stances over other issues, including the Northern Limit Line, which Pyongyang refuses to accept and demands it be drawn further south, and the Jeju Island naval base construction project.
By Lee Hyun, Kwon Sang-soo [firstname.lastname@example.org]