Just follow the law

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Just follow the law

The Democratic Party (DP) has pushed a protest to the government for “oppressing the opposition” after newly-elected Chairman Lee Jae-myung was indicted for violating the public office election law. DP floor leader Park Hong-keun called it an “unprecedented political indictment.” DP members rushed to the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office to protest the “unjust indictment.”

Before the DP and Chairman Lee criticize the prosecution, they must look back on their behaviors during the investigation. Lee claimed that he did not know Kim Moon-ki — then chief of the Seongnam Development Corporation in charge of the Daejang-dong development project — when Lee served as the Seongnam mayor. But a photo showed Lee with Kim on an overseas trip. Kim committed suicide later. During a parliamentary hearing in October last year, Lee also said that he had not been reported about the deletion of a provision on redeeming an excess profit from the Daejang-dong development project in the city.

Over the alleged favoritism for the suspicious Baekyung-dong redevelopment project, Lee denied that he had offered benefits to a developer by changing the purpose of a plot of land owned by a public food research center in the location. Instead, Lee claimed that he as the mayor had been pressured by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport to change the purpose of the land so that it could be redeveloped.

For a while, Lee did not comply with the prosecution’s demand for a written questioning. When he was summoned by the prosecution, he hastily handed in his written answers just before the deadline of the summon. Since the statute of limitation of his election law violation ended last week, it raises questions whether Lee really tried to clarify his position on the allegations against him. If he was innocent, he should have complied to the summoning. At least he should have handed in the written questionnaire before the deadline to give enough time for prosecutors to weigh his response.

The DP has motioned a bill proposing the appointment of a special prosecutor to deal with the alleged stock manipulation and other allegations around first lady Kim Keon-hee, the wife of President Yoon Suk-yeol. Political wrangling could overwhelm the corruption charges around Chairman Lee. The law enforcement authority must show that everyone is equal under the law. The police and prosecution must investigate based on the law and principle. Any disagreements should be dealt with at court.
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