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30 MDP Lawmakers Show Collective Opposition to Special Prosecutor`s Probe

30 MDP Lawmakers Show Collective Opposition to Special Prosecutor`s Probe

Posted June. 03, 2003 21:52,   


A group of 30 lawmakers of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) on Tuesday issued a statement in which they expressed disappointment and concern over the special prosecutor`s probe into the "cash-for-summit" scandal. They believe that special prosecutor Song Doo-hwan focuses on legal punishment according to the positive law, rather than fact-finding.

Though the money transfer to North Korea was created out of a legal framework, it was part of a policy decision to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula, so the decision should not be judged only in terms of the law, the moderate mainstream faction of the MDP, including Rep. Kim Geun-tae, Rep. Lee Hae-chan, and Rep. Lim Chae-jung, said.

They also said that Hyundai`s money transfer to the North is not irregularity but part of inter-Korean economic cooperation, and that the money is a kind of price for peace. In this context, they went on to say that there has no precedent across the world that the leader of a nation was punished for his diplomatic decision.

At a news conference on Monday, President Roh Moo-hyun said that the independent counsel would not do the two things – hurting inter-Korean relations and assessing the historic inter-Korean summit meeting from a political point of view. MDP moderates` statement drew attention all the more because it came just after the president stated his view on the probe into the "cash-for-summit" scandal.

Legal experts and some lawmakers of the ruling and opposition parties point out that the announcements by the President and ruling party members could put political pressure on the special prosecutor, thereby damaging the independency of his investigation.

When meeting with reporters, Park Sang-cheon, an MDP supreme council member, said that it is not proper that the president or politicians implicitly suggest guidelines about the investigation into the scandal when there is a special prosecutor, and that nobody should interfere in his investigation.

Song Tae-young, vice spokesman of the opposition Grand National Party, also said that the ruling party`s attempt to obstruct the special prosecutor`s investigation into the transfer to Pyongyang was reaching a dangerous level. He urged them to stop any attempts to hobble the prosecutor`s probe.

Lee Seok-yeon, lawyer and former secretary general of the Citizens` Coalition for Economic Justice, said, "If political circles engage in the investigations by the special prosecutor`s team according to the law, it constitutes obstruction of investigation. Therefore it is illegal."

Do Du-hyung, a senior official of the Korean Bar Association, asserted that it is not desirable for the political world to give their opinions even before the special prosecutor`s team did not finish its investigations.

Meanwhile, Kim Jong-hoon of the special prosecutor`s team noted that his team would not be influenced by the MDP member`s statement and that his team had been established in accordance with the special prosecutor law.

When asked if his saying applies to the President, Kim said that this is for everyone who shows his view to the special prosecutor.

ysmo@donga.com jefflee@donga.com