Investigate thoroughly

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Investigate thoroughly

After President Park Geun-hye refused to comply with the prosecution’s investigation of an unprecedented influence-peddling scandal involving herself and her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, a special investigative team in the prosecution said it was determined to pursue a face-to-face investigation of the president until an independent counsel begins its own probe. The special investigative unit said it would deal with the case without any political considerations.

But the prosecution’s investigation of an incumbent president seems nearly impossible regardless of its statement that it has reached the conclusion based on the solid evidence collected so far.

We urge the prosecution to focus on proving the president’s bribery charges and clear suspicions on the alleged involvement of her former chief of staff, Kim Ki-choon, and the former senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, Woo Byung-woo, in the scandal.

Of course, those suspicions are supposed to be handled by an independent counsel who takes charge early next month. But the prosecution must do its best until the independent prosecutor launches its own investigation.

The prosecution, including Prosecutor General Kim Soo-nam, is accelerating its probe of the case to find possible ways to apply bribery charges to President Park. Even though there are controversies in legal terms over the character of the money the president had received from conglomerates to establish the Mi-R Foundation and K-Sports Foundation — allegedly to promote sports in Korea — most legal experts agree to the idea of applying bribery charges to the case because the president’s demand for money from heads of conglomerates constitutes an act of receiving bribes from a broader perspective.

The prosecution has so far applied blackmail charges to the president’s act of requesting financial support from local business tycoons. In two massive slush fund cases involving two former presidents, Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae-woo, in 1995, the Supreme Court applied bribery charges.

Above all, the prosecution must concentrate on the investigation of Secretary Woo if it really wants to recover its lost integrity and honor. At the same time, prosecutors must clear the public’s persistent suspicions about why the special investigative team’s head, Yun Gap-geun, failed to get to the bottom of an embezzlement case involving Woo, a former senior prosecutor.

The prosecution must also thoroughly probe mounting suspicion of the president’s former chief of staff Kim Ki-choon, who failed to prevent the scandal and is still under suspicion for trying to protect Choi Soon-sil. Even now, the two former aides are suspected of giving the embattled president their advice for a tougher reaction to her accusations. The people believe that the prosecution’s investigation of the two figures is as crucial as its probe of the president herself.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 22, Page 34
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