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Prime Minister’s Meeting Causes Stir

Posted November. 29, 2005 07:51,   


A political stir has been created by Dong-A Ilbo’s report (refer to pages 1 and 3 on the 28) that Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan visited former President Kim Dae-jung to discuss the investigation of former chiefs of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) Lim Dong-won and Shin Kun without detention.

The opposition Grand National Party strongly criticized this, saying, “The government’s attempt to take over the reins of the prosecution has been revealed.” Prime Minister Lee, Cheong Wa Dae, and Kim’s associates are paying keen attention to the repercussions and restraining themselves from commenting.

Contrasting reactions of the ruling and the opposition parties-

Lee Kye-jin, a spokesperson of the GNP, criticized the meeting, saying, “I cannot understand how the prime minister tried to get involved in the investigation which the prosecution is currently conducting.” The spokesperson added, “As it is clear that the government has undermined the independence of the prosecution, the wiretapping investigation deserves suspicion that it is a planned investigation at the government level from the beginning.”

Rhee-Q, Tae of the GNP criticized the meeting, saying, “That Prime Minister Lee visited Kim to discuss the issues of investigation without detention is a kind of a threat. It shows that the Roh administration is attempting to control the prosecution.”

However, Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Kim Man-soo said, “I don’t know about that part (reported contents). I have doubts about whether Prime Minister Lee and Kim had any prior discussion about that.”

Prime Minister Lee, who is on a tour of five countries in the Middle East, just said “fine” when he was informed of the report, and didn’t say anything about whether it was true or not. However, another official at the Office of Premier who is left in the country seemed to admit in an indirect way, saying “I haven’t heard that no such thing had happened. But is that a problem?”

Ex-President Kim’s associates also avoided making any comment. Choi Kyung-hwan, a secretary to the former president, said, “I don’t have anything to say. You should ask a person who is said to have said that.” Choi answered about the conversation hour between Lee and Kim, which was initially known to be half an hour, saying, “It took about an hour.”

Some people in the Uri Party said, “The prior discussion of the investigation without detention has room for criticism, but it shows that Lee tried his best to prevent the detention of the two former chiefs in his own way.”

An official contended “I think the report has proven that Cheong Wa Dae did its best toward Kim’s associates. Considering the opinion in the Jeolla Provinces, the ruling party will lose nothing.”