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Prosecution in Dilemma over Timing and Degree of Disclosure

Prosecution in Dilemma over Timing and Degree of Disclosure

Posted November. 30, 2007 03:09,   


The prosecution is carefully deliberating its next move. As the probe into Grand National Party presidential candidate Lee Myung-bak’s link to the BBK stock price manipulation scandal draws to a close, the prosecution will soon have to decide when and how many of the outcomes of its investigation will be announced.

The prosecution must indict disgraced financier Kim Gyeong-jun, 41, under physical detention no later than December 5. However, the authorities cannot trace bank accounts on weekends, but have to start revising the arraignment notice and investigation result report by early next week. Simply put, they have little time for further investigation, not to mention contemplation.

The key issue is which contents are to be included in the prosecution’s investigation report.

Considering that Prosecutor General Im Chae-jin said in his inauguration speech on Monday, “The prosecution will announce its findings and also confirm what has not been found,” there is now a high possibility that the announcement will include whether or not Lee colluded with Kim in stock price manipulation and other alleged charges involving Kim.

However, it will not be easy to draw conclusions on a number of allegations raised by politicians. Although the prosecution cannot demand legal responsibility from GNP candidate Lee over the timing of his first meeting with Kim and the usage of the BBK name card, they are sensitive issues that can ignite a sense of moral responsibility.

The GNP maintains that the prosecution must reveal only the results of the prosecution and not all the minor details, while the United New Democratic Party claims that the prosecution must reveal all details surrounding their investigation.

Another sticking point is the way the report is announced. Politicians will keep their eyes and ears open for each word of the prosecution’s announcement, as they can have significant influence on the approval ratings of presidential candidates.

When the prosecution was investigating the alleged cases of military service evasion by the sons of then GNP presidential candidate Lee Hoi-chang in October, 2002, it did not hold official press conferences while releasing its interim reports. Instead, the chief investigator of the case held brief meetings with reporters in his office and banned broadcasters from filming his announcements at that time. When the prosecution concluded that the suspicion that Kim Dae-eop raised over the draft dodging of Lee’s eldest son was groundless, there were rumors that the politicians of the ruling party put the brakes on the prosecution’s announcements.

The prosecution held an official press conference in August this year to announce the investigation result over former Seoul Mayor Lee’s alleged ownership of a piece of land in Dogok-dong, Seoul, under a different person’s name. However, Kim Hong-il, the chief investigator of the case, read the prepared statement without allowing the media to broadcast the announcement.

The timing of the announcement is a sensitive issue.

The majority of prosecutors believe that as the presidential election draws near, it will be disadvantageous for the prosecution to drag the case out or announce the result at a later date. However, some experts say that it will be difficult to predict the date as the timing of the announcement is closely associated with the progress of the investigation. Lee Deuk-hong, a superintendent prosecutor in the scientific investigation team of the Supreme Prosecutors` Office, said on Thursday, “The examination on the authenticity of the Korean-language contract that Kim submitted is in the process.”

Two key witnesses, who are necessary in verifying Lee’s alleged ownership of BBK but are staying overseas, will also play as a major variable in the prosecution’s last-minute investigation.