Stop attacks on YoonIn the National Assembly’s regular audit of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office on Thursday, Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl declared that a prosecutor general is not a subordinate of the justice minister. Otherwise, the prosecution’s political neutrality cannot be protected because its two crucial functions — investigation and indictment — will be controlled by a politician, he explained. In fact, no justice minister has reigned over a prosecutor general before current Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae took office in January. Justice ministers have never ordered prosecutor generals to come to their office, either. That’s an important principle to help ensure the independence of the top law enforcement agency.
But Justice Minister Choo has abused her right to command a prosecutor general. A former justice minister had exercised that right, but he did it only to express his will to not detain a suspect on charges of violating the National Security Act. No other justice minister dared to deprive prosecutor generals of their innate right to command investigations of particular cases. Many legal experts believe Choo violated the Prosecution Act. Despite Yoon’s portrayal of the case as a “matter of legal dispute,” he nevertheless refrained from taking action for fear of inflicting “damage on the people.”
Choo forbade Yoon from stepping into two explosive financial fraud cases for no reason. Yoon not only ordered prosecutors to thoroughly investigate opposition lawmakers allegedly involved in the Lime fund scandal, but also denied he had been aware of the existence of prosecutors who allegedly received entertainment in a hostess bar from former chairman of the Lime fund. Yoon also denied that he had assigned one of those prosecutors to the Lime investigation team. And yet Choo methodically attacked Yoon based on a suspect detained for embezzlement and fraud charges.
Everyone knows why Choo is giving Yoon such grief. That’s because Yoon pressed ahead with investigations into suspicions over the Blue House’s intervention in the Ulsan mayoral election and former Justice Minister Cho Kuk’s family, for instance. Yoon compared the ruling camp’s criticisms to a “selective doubt.” Ruling party lawmakers contradicted themselves by denouncing Yoon in the audit even though they praised him during his confirmation hearing last year.
Park Soon-cheol, head of the Seoul Southern District Prosecutors’ Office, tendered his resignation Thursday with his comment that “politics dominates the prosecution.” As a prosecutor, Park indicted Yoon’s mother-in-law on fraud charges. Choo must stop playing dirty politics if she really believes in the integrity of the law enforcement agency.