Probe the president

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Probe the president

The prosecution probe on illicit power sharing and excesses in the administration of President Park Geun-hye has picked up speed. An Chong-bum, former presidential senior secretary for policy coordination, is being questioned by the prosecution on charges of pressing companies to donate nearly $70 million to two nonprofit foundations created by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of the president. The prosecution filed for a pretrial detention warrant for Choi. Such progress was made amid suspicion about the prosecution’s thorough investigation after a special task force was formed a week ago.

The prosecution stirred up skepticism when it sought a court order to detain Choi on charges of abusing power to pressure money out of companies and attempting a fraud scheme, but it appears the prosecution came up with the minimum charges in order to get a court warrant to detain Choi, who hastily returned home over the weekend. The real investigation may be just starting.

The prosecution must find out why and how An Chong-bum strong-armed companies to make such generous donations to the foundations. The people are also demanding to know how and why Choi was able to visit the Blue House whenever and command over presidential aides. The prosecution also must clarify how various top-secret presidential files arrived at Choi’s personal computer and whether the president invited Choi to make various appointments and approve government projects. Nobody would think Choi had the power to replace the head of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics Committee overnight and demand money out of a conglomerate facing a probe without higher approval.

An has said that Park and Choi did business directly, implying that all the orders would have come from the president.

The prosecution should show greater determination to get to the bottom of the story instead of citing the president’s constitutional exemption to law enforcement questioning. The prosecution has become more willing since Woo Byung-woo, the former presidential senior secretary for civil affairs who repeatedly defied prosecution summoning, was finally sacked. Prosecutors must question all the people involved, including the former chief of staff, Woo, and three personal aides of the president. In the end, the president herself must answer to questions.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 3, Page 34
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