Draft-Dodging Scandal RecedesThe draft-dodging investigation is receding into the background, although it appeared it might become a tempest for the April 13 general elections.
The "storm warning" appears to be lifting for the opposition now. Kim Han-gil, the election planning head of the Millennium Democratic Party (MDP), confirmed on March 27, that investigating politicians by summons would be impossible after candidates register for the elections.
The turnaround is due to election laws. The law stipulates that, "Candidates cannot be arrested or imprisoned from the time they register as candidates until votes are counted, unless they have committed a crime deserving over five years of imprisonment or are caught in a criminal act." A candidate's election staff and the person in charge of the candidate's accounting receive similar treatment.
Taking advantage of such a fact, one representative, who is on the list of draft-dodgers, plans to put his son on his election staff when he himself registers as a candidate.
An official of the probing authorities said, "We cannot forcibly summon a current lawmaker who has registered as a candidate or his son, registered as one of his election staff. Therefore, it is inevitable that the investigation would be suspended."
However, a rumor is spreading that the current investigation has something to do with a political realignment scenario after the elections. Opposition circles are suspicious. They say, "If the election results for the MDP are not satisfactory, they will pressure opposition legislators, using the draft-dodging investigation as one of their cards."
A Grand National Party (GNP) official said, "The prosecution pushed for the draft-dodging investigation, although it is well aware that it cannot be investigated for the 16 days of the legal campaign period, and it was done because the prosecution wanted to show the might of the draft-dodging card. After the general elections, the draft-dodging scandal will be revived."
In connection with this, the MDP brushes it off saying, "They are distorting the meaning of investigations on military irregularities." A ruling party official said, "If the investigation continues after the general elections, it is likely to have an adverse effect, for the opposition will attack us for persecuting the opposition. That was why the investigation was launched before the elections."
Nevertheless, the MDP keeps demanding from the prosecutor's office that the names on the list be disclosed. MDP officials say, "Out of 75 names handed over to the prosecution by the Anti-Corruption Alliance, nine belong to the MDP, while 66 are either of the GNP or the United Liberal Democrats."
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