Special prosecution needed

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Special prosecution needed

The prosecution’s investigation into the Daejang-dong development scandal goes on and on. After starting to look into the case in August, prosecutors will most likely end the year without finding any clues about who was really behind the suspicious development project involving a few investors, politicians and judges. If the probe keeps on, voters will have to cast their ballots in the March 9 presidential election without knowing who was the true orchestrator of the obviously shady project.

The prosecution dilly-dallied on investigations from the beginning despite a deepening public outrage at huge profits enjoyed by a precious few. It took one month for the top law enforcement agency to set up a team of investigators to look into the case. It took two more weeks until prosecutors raided the Seongnam City Hall, where former mayor Lee Jae-myung, now presidential candidate for the ruling Democratic Party (DP), approved the project. Only five suspects — including Yoo Dong-gyu, former head of the Seongnam Development Corporation (SDC), and Kim Man-bae, a major shareholder of Hwacheon Daeyu, an asset management company at the center of the scandal — are on trial now.

Above all, Jeong Jin-sang — a senior official in Lee Jae-myung’s election camp and former head of policy office at Seongnam City — has not been called for questioning by the prosecution. Jeong gave orders to Yoo — the former head of SDC indicted for causing hundreds of millions dollars in losses to the city — on the mayor’s behalf. Jeong even had a phone conversation with Yoo shortly before he attempted to commit suicide before the police raided his apartment.

Prosecutors requested a detention warrant for a former opposition lawmaker, but the court rejected it. The prosecution promised to summon the lawmaker again for further investigation, but it has not done so. A former special prosecutor and a former justice were summoned by prosecutors, but no one knows the results.

Despite the need for a special prosecutor in the case, the ruling and opposition parties are still squabbling over how to appoint one. The DP wants to appoint a special prosecutor according to the Standing Special Prosecution Act, but the opposition wants to appoint a separate special prosecutor from the start.

Both parties must stop fighting. Two core members of the SDC already committed suicide. The prosecution must probe the case and announce results fast. With only 70 days left before the election, the two parties must agree on how to appoint a special prosecutor. The public deserves the truth.
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