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Prosecutor General Resigns Over Justice Ministry Order

Posted October. 17, 2005 06:38,   


President Roh Moo-hyun accepted the resignation of Prosecutor General Kim Jong-bin on October 16. Kim resigned in protest of Justice Minister Chun Jung-bae’s order to investigate Professor Kang Jung-gu of Dongguk University (social studies) on a non-restraint basis.

Prosecutors remain cautious over the matter, saying, “If we protest together, we might be accused of sticking to our vested interests and possibly be exploited by political circles who criticize us as the subject of reform.” Most of them, however, expressed their dissatisfaction.

In a press conference held at Cheong Wa Dae on that day, Moon Jae-in, the presidential secretary for civil affairs, said, “It is heartbreaking that the prosecutor-general chose to resign, but I believe that it is an inappropriate action that might not be helpful for the independence of prosecutors’ rights.”

He also indicated, “The argument that Minister Chun’s exercise of command infringed on the independence of the prosecution does not match any legal rationale and is totally unfair.”

Regarding the argument that Minister Chun should also step down or be dismissed, he played down the possibility when he said, “It is not a matter of consideration at all. The President believes that it is not a matter of easy compromise, and that he should definitely follow the law and its principles in this matter.”

It seems that a political standoff is in order because Cheong Wa Dae accepted the resignation, dismissed requests to displace Minister Chun from his post, and confronted resistance from the prosecution.

According to presidential spokesperson Kim Man-soo, at around 4:00 p.m., President Roh met Minister Chun for about an hour at Cheong Wa Dae to be briefed on how the situation was developing and ordered, “The minister should stay firm and cope with the situation.”

After the prosecutor-general’s resignation was accepted, the prosecution held an emergency meeting of senior officials, presided over by Assistant Prosecutor-General Chung Sang-myung of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, to discuss measures to prevent agitation among prosecutors and to run the prosecution until the next prosecutor-general is appointed.

Prosecutors expressed dissatisfaction with Cheong Wa Dae’s measure. One middle-level prosecutor said, “It seems that they accuse prosecutors of being the problem as they try to save Minister Chun who forced the prosecution to follow the administration’s will.”

Three organizations, including “Lawyers Together with Citizens” (Co-representative: Lee Seok-yeon), held a press conference on October 16 at Cecil Restaurant, Jeong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul where they claimed, “Minister Chun’s exercise of command is the wrong kind of pressure to put on the prosecution from political circles,” and called on Minister Chun to resign.

Meanwhile, the Seoul Central District Court, which is currently assuming command of the case of Professor Kang, will command the police investigation into Kang on a non-restraint basis on October 17.