Prosecutors must reject corruptionPolice are now investigating allegations that prosecutors have neglected to investigate alleged bribery involving their colleagues. The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office has also launched an internal probe. It appears the bureaucracy’s tradition of corruption and cover-up is as healthy as ever.
The two investigators at the Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors’ Office alledgedly took regular bribes and were entertained by a businessman who acted as a middleman for an association of landowners that sought to develop an apartment complex between 2007 and 2009.
In return, corruption charges were dropped against the leader of the association.
The businessman apparently revealed his illegal acts to the prosecution while being investigated for another issue in 2009. Yet, the corrupt prosecution did not follow up on his allegations. Though supervisors in the office were informed of the problem and the issue was referred to another prosecutor, that person did not investigate or punish the investigators in question.
The 3-year-old case was dug up during a police investigation into suspected corruption at the prosecutors’ office. It could have been buried forever if not for the police probe.
The prosecution and police should keep watch over each other to ensure ethical operations. Constant cross-surveillance could prevent further wrongdoing and corruption at the two law enforcement authorities and enhance the checks and balances that govern them.
As for this case, the prosecution should cooperate with the police investigation. The suspected investigators should answer police summonses regardless of their participation in a separate internal affairs inquiry. The prosecution-police clash over a senior prosecutor’s corruption case in November should not be repeated. It is most important that the truth be uncovered. Personal politics should take a back seat in this scandal.
Law and order should be enforced internally as strictly as it is outside of the prosecutors’ office. This is how social justice is sustained and defended. The public will lose confidence in the law if law enforcement authorities ignore wrongdoing by their own employees.
The new government recently named a candidate for its first prosecutor general, and this case seems like a fitting first project.
We hope the prosecution will use the momentum of a leadership transition to recover its reputation and begin operating in a more honorable manner.