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Conflicts Explode from One Month of No Accomplishments

Posted February. 16, 2004 22:42,   


Assistant Independent Counsel Woo-seung resigned from his position on the Special Counsel Team to investigate corruption of the close aides to the president. The absence of leadership on the team and credibility disputes caused many problems in the team led by Kim Jin-heung.

It is difficult to expect a clear ending to the investigation now if the problems within the investigation team and brutal treatments appear on the surface of the issue.

What is the problem with the independent counsel? The independent counsel did not produce any specific results toward the case which the prosecution had already investigated, and the problems were inflicted from within the team after one month of no accomplishments.

The independent counsel team had publicly said that “they would produce discernible results until mid February” and thus held the responsibility. Assistant Counsel Lee kicked the foot of interviewee Choi during the examination of the case of Nonghyup’s 11.5 billion-won scam loan. Choi repeated the same statements, and Counsel Lee even ordered other officers to “find out even if you had to smack him in the face.”

The conflicts were initiated when a counsel dispatched by the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office tried to stop Counsel Lee from trying to indict workers at Nonghyup. The independent counsel law clearly states that the investigation is directed toward “alleged corruption of specific persons.” The opinion difference between the experienced dispatched counsel and the anxious assistant counsel regarding the investigation results caused this problem.

What will happen to the rest of the investigation? The independent counsel team needs reorganization now that one counsel has left the team. However, the timing requires enhanced investigation efforts, and it would be distracting to appoint a new counsel in the middle of the investigation. In addition, it is difficult to find a proper counsel in a short period of time. The leadership of Counsel Kim is involved in this issue.

If the opinion that “the dispatched counsels were obstacles to the investigation from the beginning, and they reported every detail to the Public Prosecutors’ Office” is found to be true, there would be changes in the dispatched counsels. Even if the independent counsel and the prosecution deny this, the credibility of the independent counsel team was damaged.

The facts found stating that there have been brutal treatments during the investigation are likely to fuel the justice issue of the independent counsel. Therefore, the resignation of Counsel Lee will add much burden to the independent counsel team with the nearing deadline for the investigation results and facing a long way to go.