‘Po­lit­i­cal’ pros­e­cu­tion

Il­le­gal leak­age of in­for­ma­tion hurts trust

The Korea Times - - OPINION -

The em­bat­tled jus­tice min­is­ter nom­i­nee Cho Kuk vowed to carry out the on­go­ing ju­di­cial re­form cen­tered on lim­it­ing the pros­e­cu­tion’s power in a way that “no one can re­verse it,” if ap­pointed, in a con­fir­ma­tion hearing, Fri­day.

Re­form­ing the pros­e­cu­tion is a po­lit­i­cal zeit­geist of this coun­try at this time. Need­less to say, the pros­e­cu­tion has of­ten drawn se­vere public crit­i­cism for its bi­ased in­ves­ti­ga­tions serv­ing the needs of those in power and cer­tain politi­cians.

In do­ing so, some pros­e­cu­tors have il­le­gally leaked to the me­dia in­for­ma­tion they had ob­tained through searches and in­ter­ro­ga­tions with a view to dis­tort­ing public opin­ions about cer­tain sus­pects be­fore tri­als.

One tragic ex­am­ple of this was a bribery in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the wife of for­mer Pres­i­dent Roh Moo-hyun that ul­ti­mately led to his death in 2009. At the time, there were mas­sive me­dia re­ports that Roh’s wife, Kwon Yang-sook, threw away a pair of ex­pen­sive watches she had re­ceived from a busi­ness­man as a gift at a rice paddy to evade an in­ves­ti­ga­tion. These re­ports quickly made Roh a public mock­ery, and days later he com­mit­ted sui­cide. Later, a se­nior pros­e­cu­tor who led this probe re­vealed that the me­dia re­ports were based on leaked in­for­ma­tion from the pros­e­cu­tion, and it was all ma­neu­vered by then-Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice chief Won Sei-hoon.

This has be­come a sym­bolic in­ci­dent of­ten cited by sup­port­ers of pros­e­cu­tion re­form. As such, the prin­ci­ples of fair­ness and po­lit­i­cal neu­tral­ity have of­ten been bro­ken es­pe­cially in con­duct­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions into politi­cians. It is true that the pros­e­cu­tion has long been used as a key tool for con­sol­i­da­tion of power.

Un­for­tu­nately, what is hap­pen­ing to Cho Kuk is rem­i­nis­cent of the “Rice Paddy Watch” drama.

There has been mas­sive me­dia cov­er­age of fraud and cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions sur­round­ing Cho’s fam­ily, es­pe­cially his wife and daugh­ter. It is be­com­ing more ev­i­dent that many of these re­ports were based on in­for­ma­tion leaked by pros­e­cu­tion in­sid­ers to con­ser­va­tive politi­cians, and then to the me­dia.

In Fri­day’s hearing, Rep. Kim Jin-tae of the Lib­erty Korea Party showed a doc­u­ment that he claimed was re­trieved from Cho’s seized com­puter.

Kim showed the file while mak­ing his case about Cho’s pos­si­ble eth­i­cal lapses, but it was also the mo­ment that he was telling the world that he had re­ceived it from some­one in­side the pros­e­cu­tion be­cause the com­puter was seized re­cently. How did he get it? Who de­liv­ered it to Kim? Given he has been sourced in a num­ber of ma­li­cious re­ports about Cho, Kim should an­swer these ques­tions.

This should be thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gated sep­a­rately from the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the sus­pi­cions sur­round­ing Cho and his rel­a­tives.

That’s be­cause this case can throw the cred­i­bil­ity of the pros­e­cu­tion’s in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Cho’s fam­ily into doubt.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Korea, Republic

© PressReader. All rights reserved.