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Four Days Ahead of Schedule: A Seemingly Quick Fix

Posted December. 23, 2004 22:58,   


The Defense Ministry announced it will publicize its final outcome of the investigation into the recent Army promotion scandal on December 24, four days ahead of schedule.

Shin Hyun-don, publicity officer of the ministry, said in a press conference on December 23, “Our ministry will announce the result of our prosecutors’ investigation into the alleged corruption in the Army promotion and plans to accuse Lieutenant Colonels Cha and Joo, who are already arrested, for obstructing our official duties through deceptive schemes.”

Brigadier General Lee at the Army Headquarters, who was classified as the key player in the case, was reported to be subject to non-restraint indictment for fabricating public documents.

Publicity Officer Shin also said, “Brigadier General Park Joo-beom suggested to Defense Minister Yoon Kwan-ung that he retract the dismissal of the three military prosecutors, yet Minister Yoon has completely precluded that option.”

Earlier, Brigadier General Park was reported to have made clear his opinion that the three prosecutors’ dismissal lacks legal grounds as their leakage of investigation conditions is unclear and having contacted the media does not justify the dismissal.

Beneath the Defense Ministry’s decision to wrap up its investigation into the Army promotion scandal ahead of schedule lies the feeling of crisis facing the military leadership.

It seems that military leaders strongly determined not to sit idle any longer in the case now that the judicial officers, chief executives responsible for military judicial affairs, stepped in to stand for the dismissed military prosecutors, following their collective opposition to their dismissal for leakage of probe information.

It was reported that the military leadership was greatly shocked at the fact that Judicial Officer Park, who was supposed to be responsible for reprimanding procedures and their superiors, stood up against the decision. When Judicial Officer Park proposed the retraction of the three military prosecutors’ dismissal to Minister Yoon on December 22, Yoon reportedly bluntly rebuffed his suggestion, “For what are you making such a suggestion at a time like this?”

However, the prevailing view is that Park recommended the withdrawal of their dismissal, though foreseeing the stir that his suggestion would create, as he was sure there was a “serious legal defect” in the Defense Ministry’s dismissal.

Some analyses have it that he judged the ministry would be in an unfavorable position if the prosecutors file a civil or criminal suit against it now that they declared to take legal action, completely denying their alleged leakage and defying their dismissal.

Observers in the military predict it is highly likely that the concerned prosecutors will receive minor punishments such as pay cuts, disciplinary confinements, or reprimands as a result of failing to find legal evidence.

Whatever the reason, it appears the Defense Ministry will inevitably face charges for wrapping up their probe only three days after its declaration to do an “absolutely clear investigation” by adding six military prosecutors to its probe team.

Some critics are raising their voices that the military leadership should be held responsible for the tainted reputation of the military after its failure to disclose the truth about its chronic appointment scandals amid influence from the political circle and its inner conflicts.

An official from the ministry said, “A severe blow to the leadership of military chief officers is expected in that they were unsuccessful in dispelling all doubts in the case from the beginning and resolving the confrontation between the military prosecution and the Army.”

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com