A reckless prosecutionThe prosecution should not invite unnecessary doubts about the impartiality of its investigation, and it should not give the impression that it seeks to use crucial evidence as material for a media play. If the prosecution turns a deaf ear to this advice, it will not fulfill its responsibility to ensure the people’s right to a fair trial.
When announcing the result of its investigation into a National Intelligence Service agent’s postings of pro-Park Geun-hye messages on the Internet during the December presidential election, the prosecution deliberately exposed a transcript of conversations from a cybercrime investigation team at the National Police Agency. That constitutes a very inappropriate action which raises strong doubts about the credibility and impartiality of the prosecution.
Another suspicion is that the prosecution attempted to distort some parts of the transcript. In fact, the prosecution’s probe was focused on two suspicions: The top spy agency’s alleged involvement in political activities and the police’s alleged cover-up of that program, including the destruction of evidence after investigating the NIS’s illegal postings on the Internet. In the process, however, the prosecution tried to distort the conversations recorded by CCTV of the cybercrime investigation unit by deliberately deleting lines at its discretion.
For instance, the prosecution’s transcript of the conversation reads: “You must be tired. Can you finish it in an hour? Come on.” But the real video clip of the conversation recorded by the CCTV camera went: “As the number of Excel files exceeds 60,000 … Ah, I’m tired. I hope I can finish it in an hour. Come on.” The prosecution’s version of the conversation could suggest the possibility of fabrication of evidence if you read it with that likelihood in your mind. But the real conversation is just everyday chatter about Excel files.
Despite the prosecution’s excuses, the controversy over its suspicious editing will not subside easily.
The prosecution said it had no intention of manipulating the transcript and claimed they only produced excerpts from the 120-minute video file. “Why would we edit or distort the transcript when we must present the entire video and transcript to the court?” the prosecution countered. But it cannot avoid the criticism that it tried to take part in a war of public opinion on a politically volatile issue. Such behavior testifies to the prosecution’s long-standing reputation as a politically motivated group. The prosecution must keep in mind that it is the court - not public opinion - that hands down the final judgment.