Pres­i­dent urges pros­e­cu­tion to map out re­form plan

Moon’s mes­sage seen as yet an­other strong warn­ing

The Korea Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Do Je-hae [email protected]­re­

Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in sent a di­rect or­der to Prose­cu­tor-Gen­eral Yoon Seok-yeol, Mon­day, to come up with mea­sures to in­crease the pub­lic’s trust in the pros­e­cu­tion fol­low­ing a street rally in south­ern Seoul, Satur­day, held in sup­port of em­bat­tled Jus­tice Min­is­ter Cho Kuk’s ini­tia­tive for ju­di­cial re­form.

This is the sec­ond time in four days for Moon to send a strong mes­sage to the pros­e­cu­tion, which is car­ry­ing out an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions in­volv­ing the for­mer se­nior pres­i­den­tial aide for civil af­fairs.

The mes­sage de­liv­ered Mon­day through spokes­woman Ko Min-jung car­ried a sterner tone in that it con­tained a di­rect mes­sage for the top prose­cu­tor, who was not even present at a brief­ing given by Cho at Cheong Wa Dae, Mon­day, on mea­sures to over­haul the pros­e­cu­tion. Once again, Moon stressed the im­por­tance of re­gain­ing the pub­lic’s trust.

“I or­der the prose­cu­tor-gen­eral to lis­ten to the voices call­ing for the pros­e­cu­tion’s re­form and swiftly present mea­sures for its trans­for­ma­tion into an agency that is trusted by the peo­ple. For this, the pros­e­cu­tion must col­lect the opin­ions of young pros­e­cu­tors and women pros­e­cu­tors, as well as those work­ing in the crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion and trial de­part­ments.”

The mes­sage is seen as yet an­other strong warn­ing to the pros­e­cu­tion, whose thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­gard­ing Cho has been seen by Cheong Wa Dae as a show of re­sis­tance to ju­di­cial re­form mea­sures be­ing pushed by Moon, in­clud­ing lim­it­ing prose­cu­tor’s in­ves­tiga­tive pow­ers.

Also, the re­marks re­flect the Pres­i­dent’s de­ter­mi­na­tion not to back down in the lin­ger­ing po­lit­i­cal storm in the af­ter­math of his con­tro­ver­sial ap­point­ment of the for­mer law pro­fes­sor to jus­tice min­is­ter ear­lier this month de­spite the wide-rang­ing al­le­ga­tions of wrong­do­ing in­volv­ing Cho and his fam­ily mem­bers.

Moon showed his strong back­ing of Cho by or­der­ing a brief­ing on ju­di­cial re­form de­spite wide­spread crit­i­cism from the op­po­si­tion that a per­son whose fam­ily mem­bers are un­der­go­ing pros­e­cu­to­rial in­ves­ti­ga­tions is not fit to serve as jus­tice min­is­ter.

“All of the mea­sures pre­pared by the jus­tice min­is­ter are nec­es­sary for ju­di­cial re­form,” Moon said. “The Min­istry of Jus­tice and the pros­e­cu­tion must work to­gether re­gard­ing ju­di­cial re­form. The min­istry should play a cen­tral role in the in­sti­tu­tional as­pects of the re­form, and the pros­e­cu­tion must spear­head the changes in the ex­er­cise of its au­thor­ity, its in­ves­tiga­tive prac­tices and or­ga­ni­za­tional cul­ture.”

The Pres­i­dent urged the pros­e­cu­tion to be more “hum­ble” be­fore the pub­lic. “All state pow­ers must be hum­ble be­fore the peo­ple. In par­tic­u­lar, state agen­cies with power must be sub­ject to strong demo­cratic con­trol,” he said. “Un­der this ad­min­is­tra­tion, the in­de­pen­dence of the pros­e­cu­tion’s in­ves­tiga­tive rights has made no­tice­able progress, but there is still strong crit­i­cism that it has not done enough to ad­vance the ex­er­cis­ing of the pros­e­cu­tion’s rights, in­ves­ti­ga­tion prac­tices and or­ga­ni­za­tional cul­ture.”

With re­peated warn­ings from Moon against the pros­e­cu­tion, po­lit­i­cal clashes over the Cho con­tro­versy are ex­pected to get fiercer in the com­ing weeks.

“The Moon ad­min­is­tra­tion is the one that needs to be sub­ject to the peo­ple’s judg­ment for re­form. It is med­dling in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and threat­en­ing the pros­e­cu­tion,” main op­po­si­tion Lib­erty Korea Party (LKP) Chair­man Hwang Kyo-ahn said dur­ing a party meet­ing Mon­day.

The tim­ing of Cho’s brief­ing to the Pres­i­dent drew keen at­ten­tion as it fol­lowed a rally in Seo­cho-dong. Cheong Wa Dae said that the brief­ing, the first by Cho since his ap­point­ment ear­lier this month, was a cus­tom­ary one given to the Pres­i­dent by a Cabi­net mem­ber. “Var­i­ous min­istries have given re­ports, ei­ther at the Pres­i­dent’s in­struc­tion or when nec­es­sary as seen by the min­istry,” a pres­i­den­tial aide told re­porters dur­ing a brief­ing at the pres­i­den­tial of­fice, Mon­day.

Cheong Wa Dae said that for now, there is no spe­cific plan for the Pres­i­dent to be briefed on the pros­e­cu­tion’s re­form by the prose­cu­tor-gen­eral di­rectly.


Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in speaks in a meet­ing at Cheong Wa Dae, Mon­day, af­ter Jus­tice Min­is­ter Cho Kuk gave a re­port on his plans to re­form the pros­e­cu­tion. The Pres­i­dent said the pros­e­cu­tion — which is in­ves­ti­gat­ing cor­rup­tion scan­dals in­volv­ing Cho and his fam­ily mem­bers — lacks the will to over­haul it­self.

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