Accept search and seizures

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Accept search and seizures

The independent counsel investigators on Friday attempted to barge into the Blue House compound to search and seize evidence related to the power abuse scandal involving President Park Geun-hye, her friend Choi Soon-sil and her inner circle. They were looking for evidence that President Park and her aides may have destroyed ahead of the launch of the investigation by state prosecutors in October.

But the Blue House maintained that it could not allow their entry citing military security reasons. It would have been the first time for law enforcement officers to raid the Blue House.

The independent counsel is determined to get into the compound, claiming it to be the center of the crimes that Park is alleged to have committed. It believes that the president’s immunity from prosecution should not shield her from investigation of criminal charges in which she is a supsect along with Choi. The Blue House strongly resists access. State prosecutors attempted a raid in October, but had to settle for materials handed over by the presidential staff in another place.

The presidential office, of course, has some legal grounds to deny access to such raids. Article 110 of the Criminal Procedure Law requires permission from the top authority when searching a premise involved with military and classified work. But another provision in the same law says that accessibility must be granted if it does not severely threaten national interests. A search, therefore, is perfectly legitimate if investigators do not touch classified materials.

It could be a grave matter if there is a physical clash between security guards and investigators trying to move in. Such a clash would only slow down the investigation. The president is seriously disregarding public wishes if she really wants to defer raids and questioning by special investigators for as long as possible.

Her legal team is already under fire for trying to delay her impeachment trial in the Constitutional Court by applying for too many witnesses and being slow to submit necessary papers. She must pay heed to calls that she is seriously harming national interests by interfering with the investigation.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 3, Page 30
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