Make no mistakes this timeProsecutors summoned former President Park Geun-hye to their head office for questioning on March 21. She would be questioned as a suspect to 13 charges including bribery and abuse of power. She becomes the fourth president after Roh Tae-woo, Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Moo-hyun to be summoned by the prosecution. It is an embarrassing tradition for ex leaders of the country to face judiciary prosecution after they leave office.
We dread to think about possible upsets during the summoning and request for an arrest warrant. Chun publicly defied prosecutors’ call for summoning in a press conference outside his home in Seoul in 1995 and went straight to his home in Hapcheon instead of heading to the prosecutors’ office. Prosecutors had to send investigators to force his return. Tensions were high until he was placed under pretrial detention. During a bribery probe, Roh committed suicide.
Roh was reportedly humiliated by the probe. Woo Byung-woo, former senior secretary for civil affairs to Park who spearheaded the investigation on Roh, had addressed the president without the title, bluntly telling him that Roh was sitting across him as a suspect on bribery charges — not as a former commander in chief of the country. Prosecutors must take pains not to repeat the mistake. They must restrain themselves from unnecessary provocative comments and questions that could be insulting to the suspect. While being thorough with the investigation, they must consider that Park is a former president. They must keep their questioning strictly to the charges.
Park said she would “dutifully” comply with the investigation. She must fully cooperate to prove the “truth” she claims has been distorted. She must not disappoint the authorities and public again by going back against her words. We hate to see another president being forced into an investigation.
JoongAng Ilbo, March 16, Page 34