Let the investigation happenThe leadership of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) criticizing the prosecution for its surprise raid and investigation of justice minister nominee Cho Kuk is an act of unwarranted political intervention in judiciary affairs.
“I am upset by the ambush and mass-scale prosecutorial raids ahead of Cho’s confirmation hearing,” said Lee Hae-chan, chair of the DP in an executive meeting. “The media knew it first. This can disturb the nation more than the issues over Gsomia (a mutual military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan that Korea has scrapped),” he added.
It is ironic for the DP to complain about the prosecution probe commanded by the progressive Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl that the president and ruling party appointed to spearhead reforms. When Moon went ahead with Yoon’s appointment despite the opposition’s refusal to endorse the nomination, the ruling party came to Yoon’s defense by arguing he was the best candidate to head the prosecution. At his appointment ceremony in the Blue House, Moon told Yoon to carry out investigations into any form of corruption, even if it involved the Blue House, government and ruling party.
Some of the allegations against Cho are a blunt violation of the laws. The key orchestrators behind a private equity fund Cho’s family has invested in are out of the country, raising suspicion that they have fled overseas to avoid summoning to the hearing. The raids were carried out in haste in fear that evidence would be destroyed. The ruling party’s intervention, albeit verbal, can affect the prosecution’s probe and legitimate actions. The DP is contradicting itself when it criticizes the prosecution’s investigation.
Moon has been intent to seat Cho as justice minister to see through reforms in the prosecution so that the institution no longer comes under political influence. The reforms and their executions are important. Fair and strict investigations into the powers that be should be the beginning of that reform. The prosecution must not waver against political pressure and comb through every suspicion against Cho.
Since Cho is now officially under a prosecutorial probe, officials at the Justice Ministry, including prosecutors, must stop aiding the nominee ahead of his confirmation hearing. It is not normal for active prosecutors advising someone under prosecutorial probe. There cannot be any suspicions left. The ruling party must stop all interventions.
JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 29, Page 30