Judges aren’t politiciansThe prosecution clashed head-on with the judicial branch after a court repeatedly rejected its request to arrest retired intelligence officials on charges of meddling in domestic political affairs under President Lee Myung-bak. The prosecution issued a statement criticizing the court decision. The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said that it cannot understand the judgments of the bench in charge of reviewing arrest warrants because the judge’s decision is inconsistent with past precedents.
The prosecution argued that since the new bench in charge of reviewing the issuing of arrest warrants was formed in February, all the prosecution requests for arrests of key figures implicated in the presidential corruption scandal — former presidential secretary for civil affairs Woo Byung-woo, former presidential aide Lee Young-sun, and Chung Yoo-ra, daughter of Choi Soon-sil — had been denied. Prosecutors also complained that they could not follow up on the case involving a violent suspect who attacked a special prosecutor during a hearing in a court despite the police’s presence. The prosecution also criticized the court for rejecting search warrants for several alleged accomplices involved in the spy agency’s intervention in domestic politics despite a strong need to probe their suspicious bank accounts.
The court retorted that it is not appropriate for the prosecution to question court decisions on arrest warrants because of changes in judges. A judge at the Seoul Central District Court said that his decision was prompted by the judgment that there were no concerns of flight by the suspects during the investigation process.
Prosecutors argue that they cannot pursue the truth and punish those responsible for scandalous power abuses and past ills if they continue to be denied arrest warrants. We can hardly understand their argument. What they claim is that they should be licensed to punish anyone if it serves the purpose of President Moon Jae-in.
The rule of investigation without physical detention should be respected and the court’s conclusions about flight concerns and destruction of evidence. Ideological yardsticks must not interfere. Politicians can promise to probe past scandals. But that’s not the standard for the judicial branch.
JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 9, Page 30