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Roh Hints at Willingness for Special Prosecution over Oil Scandal

Roh Hints at Willingness for Special Prosecution over Oil Scandal

Posted April. 19, 2005 23:01,   


President Roh Moo-hyun said on April 19 that he might accept the call for a special prosecution on the botched oil exploration deal signed between a Russian company and Korea Railroad (formerly known as Korea National Railroad). However, it is still unclear if lawmakers from the ruling and opposition parties can reach an agreement to establish an independent counsel. This is because the ruling party maintains that the case should go first to the prosecution, while the opposition parties argue for the immediate need for independent counsel. Arguments from both camps seem politically motivated ahead of the by-elections to be held on April 30.

President Roh ordered on the same day for presidential chief of staff Kim Woo-sik to “positively review the possibility that Cheong Wa Dae will confidently accept the call for an independent counsel if the opposition parties repeatedly raise suspicions over Cheong Wa Dae and the president’s aides,” according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Man-soo.

However, Mr. Kim added, “An independent counsel will be set up only when ruling and opposition lawmakers reach an agreement after the result of the prosecutors’ investigation comes out first. It is not that the president agreed to the immediate need of the independent counsel, but that he simply expressed his willingness to set one up if the opposition parties doubt the credibility of the prosecution investigation.”

Rep. Oh Young-sik, vice floor leader of the ruling Uri Party, announced in his briefing that “the ruling party is willing to accept the need for a probe by an independent counsel when the public finds the result of the prosecutors’ investigation to be short of its expectations even after a thorough investigation.”

On the other hand, Grand National Party spokeswoman Jeon Yeo-ok argued that “the president made the right decision.” She went on to say that “the ruling Uri Party should respect the decision made by Cheong Wa Dae and resolve the public suspicions by fully accepting the opposition parties’ bill calling for a special prosecution.”

Jung-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com