Bartering a conscience

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Bartering a conscience

The prosecution’s investigation into the perjury charges against Kwon Eun-hee, a lawmaker of the opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), is expected to gain momentum.

The Supreme Court has reached the conclusion that Kwon’s claim - that she received inappropriate pressure from Kim Yong-pan, then-chief of the Seoul Metropolitan Police when she investigated a case involving a National Intelligence Service staffer who posted pro-Park Geun-hye messages on the Internet to help her get elected after defying the top spy agency’s motto of political neutrality - is not credible. Based on Kwon’s insistence, the prosecution accused the former Seoul police chief of violating the public offices election law. However, the highest court has upheld two lower courts’ rulings that Kim is not guilty of violating the election law because Kwon’s statements are not trustworthy enough to dispel a “rational doubt” about the accusation. The top court also sided with the lower courts’ rulings that Kwon’s assertion runs counter to testimony of other police officers.

The Supreme Court’s ruling means Kwon exaggerated what happened to her and exposed it in an erroneous way. In fact, she behaved as if she had been a “daughter of justice,” after her insistence was welcomed by conspiracy mongers in the opposition camp. Thanks to her sudden popularity, she was nominated as a candidate of the NPAD in the July by-elections and grabbed a seat in the National Assembly, which represents Gwangsan-B district in Gwangju, a shrine for democracy movement fighters and home turf of liberal forces. Considering the trajectory of Kwon’s political moves after her indictment, the authenticity of her claim deserves strong suspicion. Her sudden nomination as an opposition candidate could be seen as a reward.

Kwon reacted to the highest court’s decision with an attack on the judiciary for its “sheer irresponsibility.” Her argument sounds not only unconvincing but self-righteous. If Kwon, who served in all three branches of government after passing the bar exam, does not respect our judicial system, she deserves harsh criticism from the people.

The prosecution must get to the bottom of the perjury charges brought by a conservative civic group against Kwon. Of course, the prosecution might feel embarrassed as it must investigate her again after having used her testimony to indict the former Seoul police chief. Yet prosecutors must punish an obstruction of justice if she really traded her conscience for a seat in the legislature.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 31, Page 30

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