Let the investigations beginProsecutors raided locations connected to allegations against controversial justice minister nominee Cho Kuk, initiating a full-scale investigation ahead of a planned confirmation hearing scheduled for next week. Never has a ministerial post candidate become a subject to a prosecutorial probe before the legislative questioning. Prosecutors have kicked off investigations of a candidate who could become their boss, because the allegations around Cho go beyond ethical issues. Over 10 charges against him are criminal cases. The quicker-than-expected investigation has surprised the political and judiciary communities. The case was assigned to a special bureau of the top law enforcement authority which deals with political issues.
The public will closely watch whether the investigations are “genuine.” There are some who think prosecutors are putting on a charade to help clear Cho’s name. Although prosecutors claim they have launched the investigation earlier than expected to prevent any destruction of evidence, they stopped short of searching his home. Prosecutors have so far feigned investigations on charges against the acting ruling force.
Their probes into online schemers in elections and a “blacklist” of the Environment Ministry were hardly as intense as the investigations into previous administrations. Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl would be betraying the people and prosecutors if it all turns out to be a show. The investigation must be thorough and complete even if Cho withdraws himself from the nomination or the president leaves him.
The investigation also should be free of any political influence. Hong Ik-pyo, spokesman for the Democratic Party, raised suspicion about a “political design” to interrupt the prosecutorial reform drive. The Blue House and ruling party must refrain from any attempt to influence the investigation by implying some kind of guidelines on investigations.
Cho must seriously contemplate the damage he has caused. The fact that the court issued warrants to the home of his brother, the school foundation and the universities his daughter attended suggests that the judge suspects illegal acts by Cho.
In other words, he could face a confirmation hearing as a witness or suspect. He also would be able to deny answering sensitive questions on the grounds that the comments could work unfavorably against him or his family in criminal proceedings. The people would see through him if he attempts to take such a step even after promising to tell the truth at the hearing.
JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 28, Page 30