The CIO went too farDisputes are getting heated over the ruling Democratic Party’s allegation that former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl, a presidential candidate of the opposition People Power Party (PPP) and a frontrunner in polls for the March 9 presidential election, was behind the PPP’s filing of a criminal complaint against figures close to President Moon Jae-in. The two parties are ferociously attacking each other for “maliciously taking the political offensive.” Some inconsistent comments are helping fuel public confusion about the allegation.
Moreover, the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials (CIO) has embarked on investigating the case just four days after a pro-government civic group filed a complaint. The CIO has its own investigative rights, but the prosecution’s inspection team was already looking into the case and Justice Minister Park Beom-gye also suggested the possibility of probing the case. No wonder suspicions arose that the special investigation agency stepped in to prove its role — and to serve the interests of the Blue House.
The CIO first cited the need to probe the case because it was “a matter of national concern” and then stepped back and said, “Whether Yoon committed a crime is the next question.” That amounts to an admission of an investigation without any clear evidence against Yoon. Its decision to define Yoon as a suspect went too far. It also implicated prosecutor Son Jun-sung, who was head of investigative information policy at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, on charges of delivering to the PPP a request for filing a complaint about President Moon’s allies. But there is no evidence that Yoon was behind the delivery.
Another question involves National Intelligence Service (NIS) head Park Ji-won’s suspicious meeting with a whistleblower only three weeks before her account started to appear in the media. The Yoon camp attacked the spy chief for intervention in presidential elections. Branding the meeting a “Park Jie-won gate,” the camp demanded to know what was discussed between the two. Yet, whether the meeting was a political deal isn’t known at this point.
The whistleblower made her bombshell revelation after storing related evidence on her smartphone for over a year. Why? We hope prosecutor Son also tells the truth as soon as possible. That’s the way to go for a civil servant, and the CIO must take responsibility for the results of its investigations.