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Ugly Fight Between Prosecutors and Police

Posted June. 21, 2005 07:43,   


The heated battle between prosecutors and police over adjusting investigative authority has been aggravated to such an extent that malicious backbiting has become frequent.

The fight has continued even in the lobby targeting the political circle, leading to politician intervention in the issue. Irrational power conflicts between the two institutions have drawn harsh criticism since the Korean public, the real owner of the authority, seemed to be totally forgotten in the battle.

Counterattack from Police-

The prosecutors’ report was released on June 20, describing police as “fascist” and “exploiters of the colonial period,” which invoked a full-scale counterattack from police.

Earlier on June 14, the Justice Ministry had submitted a non-public report titled, “Historical Characteristics of the Prosecutors’ Investigative Authority,” to both ruling and opposition lawmakers of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee of the National Assembly.

The report citied the remark that Rep. Um Sang-sop made in the process of establishing the criminal procedure code in 1954, which is that the fascism of police should be checked by allowing prosecutors investigative authority.

The National Police Agency, in its counter-statement, claimed that the criminal procedure code adopted during the Japanese colonial period of the Joseon Dynasty was aimed at making prosecutors serve as the spearhead of Japan’s militarism, which, therefore, contains prosecutors’ fascism.

The National Police Agency has decided to put a waiting message in the call center of 251 police stations nationwide from June 23 so that callers will be able to listen to the necessity of adjusting investigative authority while waiting for their lines to be connected.

Prosecutors with No Retreat-

As the report to the National Assembly that contains the seemingly direct criticism of police has gone public, the Justice Ministry set out to settle down the situation, saying that the remark was only used to explain the historical record of prosecutors’ investigative authority and that there was no intention to condemn police in any way.

However, the ministry has not pulled back one inch from its position on maintaining investigative authority. “To adjust investigative authority could be very dangerous unless means to prevent police from abusing its power are first prepared, such as a self-administered police system, the separation between administrative police and judiciary police, and the reduction of the detention period,” said Soh Byeong-cheol, the policy coordinator of the Justice Ministry. Then he pointed out that there are no countries that allow individual investigative authority to police without decentralizing its power.

Prosecutors distributed its June bulletin, “The Prosecutors Family,” which carries a special edition regarding the adjustment of investigative authority. The special edition is about 30 pages long and includes articles by high-ranking prosecutor officials, including Prosecutor General Kim Jong-bin, Supreme Public Prosecutor`s Office’s coordination director Lee Jun-bo, and those favorable to prosecutors.

Political Circle Intervenes-

The issue has spread to the political circles, dividing lawmakers according to their background.

“It looks like prosecutors are under attack on both sides, police and the courts. I’m not sure of what is behind this, but it seems to be targeting weakening and checking the authority of prosecutors,” said Rep. Jang Yun-seok of the Grand National Party, who once worked as a prosecutor.