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Will Accusations Against Park Be Led by SIT?

Posted July. 09, 2007 03:03,   


The prosecution is seriously considering assigning the investigation into allegations against former Grand National Party (GNP) Chairwoman and GNP presidential contender Park Geun-hye to a special investigation team (SIT).

Prosecutors said that, “The urgent cases that require prompt investigation will be covered by our special investigation team.” However, they are not saying whether or not the accusations against Park will be also investigated by the SIT.

Since all three cases that are assigned to the SIT are linked to GNP presidential hopeful Lee Myung-bak, its investigation is likely to be criticized for potential partiality. The prosecution is very alert to that now.

However, it is not easy for the prosecution to simply pass cases involving Park’s alleged illegal activities to the SIT. Currently, a civic group, the Cyber Solidarity of People for a Regime Change, accused Park of embezzlement during her tenure as the chief director of the Jeongsu Scholarship Foundation, and Park also made a complaint against Kim Hae-ho, member of GNP, who alleged Park conducted unlawful acts related to the late Minister Choi Tae-min’s Yukyeong Scholarship Foundation.

However, while accusations against Lee require investigations into the leakage of national information, a decent ground for SIT intervention, the types of suspicions faced by Park are typically not investigated by the SIT.

Besides, accusations related to election campaigns are expected to further increase due to accelerating competition in nominating candidates in both ruling and opposition parties. Whether or not the SIT assumes all these investigations is something the prosecution will have to sort out later.

If the SIT continues to lead the investigation in all these cases, the prosecution will be likely to arise as the center of election campaigning as seen in the 2002 presidential election. If it passes all the cases to a public security department or a criminal case department, the prosecution will be entangled in conflicts that again question its political neutrality.

One senior prosecutor said that, “It is important for the prosecution to keep its distance from possible political entanglements. However, it is not a desirable action to assign all cases to the special investigation team without considering the possibility of indictment, which is the fundamental function of the prosecutor’s office.” He also added that, “I am afraid that the prosecution might be heading toward trouble.”

Meanwhile, as far as the composition of the SIT, senior prosecutors with 10-years’ experience under their belts will participate.

Choi Jae-kyeong, director of Special Investigation Team 1 in the Seoul District Public Prosecutors’ Office, who handled the investigation into the slush fund scandal of Hyundai Kia Automotive Group last year, and the lobby scandal of JU Group, an illegal pyramid scheme, was appointed as chief director.

Three or four other prosecutors from the special investigation team, including Kim Ki-dong, director of the special investigation headquarters on corruption and vice-director of the special investigation team will join the SIT. Others who are experts in stock price manipulation and technological information leakage cases will join the team as well.