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[Editorial] Probe Into Ex-Pres. Must Proceed

Posted May. 01, 2009 07:23,   


Former President Roh Moo-hyun underwent grilling by two prosecutors at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office through early this morning. Contrary to his silence to reporters before leaving his home in Bongha village in the morning and when he stood in front of the prosecutors’ building, he is said to have shown a willingness to actively cooperate with the probe. Now all eyes are on what prosecutors will decide.

Upon leaving his home in Bongha village, “I’m sorry. I apologize for your disappointment. Goodbye.” After saying this, he got on a bus offered by the presidential office. His supporters standing along the alley chanted his name and scattered yellow rose petals, but he was serious. Even after arriving at the prosecutors’ office, he said nothing but “I’m sorry” to hundreds of reporters.

Koreans must have felt a sense of bitterness watching the corrupt former president. Understandably, Roh must have felt the same since he was summoned by prosecutors as a suspect less than a year since his retirement. When will the shameful tradition of investigating a former president for bribery suspicions end? Roh is the nation’s third former president to be summoned, following Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo who were went to prison in 1995 for creating slush funds worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Roh Moo-hyun cooperated in the investigation with the help of attorney and former presidential secretary Moon Jae-in. The former president is alleged to have received one million dollars at the presidential office, five million dollars from his nephew-in-law’s savings account, and 1.25 billion won (968,000 dollars) in slush funds that former presidential secretary for general affairs Jung Sang-moon embezzled on behalf of him. A prosecutor said Roh actively made arguments without using his Miranda rights. Prosecutors are said to have conducted a cross-examination when testimony made by Taekwang Industry CEO Park Yeon-cha and Jung did not match.

Now is the time for prosecutors to confirm Roh’s suspicions and make a decision. Some say Roh should not go to prison for the sake of Korea’s global image, while others say he must be brought to justice without imprisonment. Some say he committed the crime for survival and others urge not to prosecute him and just forget about the whole thing. The decision of prosecutors, however, should not be influenced by emotional arguments or politics. The decision should come based on the outcome of the investigation and the status of the law as a political sovereign and neutral entity.