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Police Will Not or Cannot Catch Choi Sung-gyu

Posted December. 30, 2002 22:25,   


The Department of Police has reportedly given the retirement payment to Choi Sung-gyu (52), a former lieutenant in charge of a special division who has been wanted by the police for his role in the "Choi Gyu-sun" gate. When doling out the money, the police did not even check out his whereabouts. Thus, the public doubts whether the police really intend to arrest him. The police argue that the payment itself has no legal problems. Many people, however, blame the department for malfeasance, considering that Choi Sung-gyu has been a fugitive and that it took 4 months to process the payment, an ample time for the department to arrest him if it really wanted to do.

▽ Payment application & request = It has transpired that Choi first requested for the retirement payment on June 20. The form that had been filed in his wife`s name was remanded since the applicant was the only one who was authorized on the record to receive the payment. Then, Choi asked his family living in Korea to send him copies of his family registry, application form and bank account record. After reception, he filled up the form himself and sent it via a Korean courier service branch in the United States.

On the delivery request form was recorded his return address as "3171 W. Olympic #159, LA, VA 90006." But the address was faked up. It is that of a post office in the Korean Town in Los Angeles. Also, the phone number of him on the form, (310) 739-1804, was also not in service.

The request packet was delivered to an officer in the Department of Police on August 27th. The next day, it was relayed to the human recourses division. Then the police notified the DA`s office and the Justice Department of the filing. Filing of the retirement payment application was also orally reported in 2-3 days to the head of the Police Department, Lee Phal-ho.

One senior police officer confirmed, "Right upon the delivery of the application packet, we notified the Justice Department, our LA field officer. In addition, we handed over the documents to the head of our department. Our boss did not order or direct anything regarding the application packet."

▽ Lax investigation = What the Police Department and the Justice Department did was confirmation of the return address on the packet and notification thereof to the US Justice Department. In fact, Choi, the former police officer, was classified "Red Notice" by the US Interpol division in July. The class Red Notice is given only to felonies. Nonetheless, the action taken by South Korean authorities were simply too lax.

The police and prosecution did not even question the courier service employees who had knowledge of the circumstances. In addition, the documents submitted by Choi were sent over to Choi in US by his family members in Korea. Nonetheless, the police did not check out the address of Choi with his family members.

In case of registered mails and packages, the post office requests the sender to fill out the address form showing the name of the sender and the address of the receiver to prepare for the loss or damage. Then the office keeps the record.

The police did not check out whether Choi withdrew the retirement payment in the United States. If he took out the money using his credit card or at a branch office of a Korean bank, the place of withdrawal is recorded, giving a clue to his exact whereabouts.

Furthermore, Choi has maintained a frequent contact with his family members in Korea. Nevertheless, the police did not wiretap or take other actions to verify his address. Some time after the application was filed, his family members protested against the late processing to the authorities by saying, "Choi did fill it up himself. Why are you holding on to his retirement payment?" This incident strongly indicates that the family members know of Choi`s current residence.

Jin-Goo Lee sys1201@donga.com