Stop stalling on the Roh transcripts

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Stop stalling on the Roh transcripts

The prosecution has reached a preliminary conclusion that the original minutes and tape recordings of the 2007 inter-Korean summit had been erased before the records were transferred from the presidential office to the National Archives. That is the first light shed on questions about what exactly President Roh Moo-hyun said about the tense sea border in the Yellow Sea during his private conversation with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and how the record of that talk mysteriously disappeared. Now the question is who among Roh’s aides were involved in the cover-up.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, which has been investigating the case, said that it had completed its study of the presidential records at the National Archives. After thoroughly examining the “e-Jiwon” - an electronic archive system at the Blue House during the Roh administration - prosecutors said they had discovered traces of files of the inter-Korean summit that had been erased soon after the October 2007 summit and two months before the presidential election in December.

Cho Myung-kyun, Roh’s secretary for national security affairs, earlier told the prosecution the same thing. It seems, then, that Roh’s Blue House was behind the erasure of the president’s controversial comments at the inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang. The prosecution will conclude its study of the notes and recordings by the end of the month and summon witnesses before issuing a final investigation report next month.

But about 30 former Blue House staff members under Roh who were involved in storing, managing and transferring the presidential records to the National Archives are resisting a summons by the prosecution. They must answer questions about how the files were managed in order to reveal the real truth.

A senior official at the Blue House secretary office said in a media interview that the files in the e-Jiwon presidential archive had been moved to the secretariat office folder in late December, denying that they were erased. He refuses to comply with the prosecution’s request to question him and disagrees with the prosecution’s preliminary findings. He should confront the prosecution and clarify why it is wrong to claim that the Blue House destroyed the files in question.

Political scandals usually die down after wrangling between the ruling and opposition parties. But suspicions must be cleared up - regardless of the political stakes. Legitimate summons must be answered. If Roh’s people have anything to say, they should speak to the prosecution.
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