CIO misses another kickThe Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials (CIO) is being questioned for its political neutrality ahead of the presidential election next March. The fledgling office’s first request for a detention warrant for Son Jun-sung, a prosecutor accused of helping arrange a criminal complaint against pro-government figures for the opposition People Power Party (PPP), was denied by the Seoul Central District Court. A warrant can be turned down depending on the issue and circumstances. But the CIO strangely rushed to request a detention warrant in this case. After its request for an arrest warrant for prosecutor Son was rejected, the CIO resubmitted a request for a detention warrant three days later. It even notified Son to turn up just a day before the hearing.
The court already judged that the suspect had no reason to refuse summoning, but the CIO wanted to detain Son for questioning even without directly investigating him. Son has already notified through is lawyer that he would appear for questioning on Nov. 2. The court denied the CIO’s second request for pretrial detention, finding no reason to believe he would destroy evidence or flee.
The ruling Democratic Party (DP) interfered in the affair as if to undermine the CIO’s independence. While the office was struggling to get a court-issued arrest warrant for Son, Rep. Park Joo-min, who is heading the party’s task force on the case, demanded a speedier investigation from the CIO. He stressed the need for an arrest while the court was reviewing the warrant. The PPP is accusing the DP of pressuring the CIO to file for Son’s arrest. It claimed the CIO was attempting political intervention because Son’s arrest could damage the opposition’s presidential race.
During a parliamentary questioning session on Tuesday, even Song Doo-hwan, chair of the National Human Rights Commission, partly agreed with an opposition lawmaker by saying, “(CIO investigation) was not proceeding in an appropriate manner.”
In a party meeting, DP head Song Young-gil called for a “thorough investigation on Son” and urged the court to strive hard to investigate him. His remarks on the court and CIO cannot be right.
The institutionalization of the CIO had been questioned from the beginning. Its cause will lose meaning if its political neutrality and independence is are questioned. The CIO must reexamine itself.