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[Editorial] Release Evidence in the Roh Probe

Posted June. 02, 2009 07:36,   


With the death of former President Roh Moo-hyun, the allegation that he received 6.4 million dollars in bribes and embezzled 1.2 billion won (970,000 U.S. dollars) allocated for “special activities” will remain unresolved forever. Prosecutors have stopped their investigation since Roh’s suicide May 23, saying they no longer have the right to continue the probe. Since the main suspect has died, ending the investigation seems like a logical step.

Letting go of the truth discovered in the investigation is inappropriate, however. There are so many unresolved questions, including if Roh received a large sum of money from Taekwang Industry Chairman Park Yeon-cha, who was Roh’s financial supporter during his presidency; what Roh gave to Park in return for the money; and where Roh spent the money. People have the right to know the investigation results. Roh denied most of the allegations against him, saying, “I didn’t know (about the money) when I was a president.” If prosecutors disclose the evidence, whether material or testimony, it will help toward making the right judgment.

Prosecutors have disclosed the outline of the allegations against Roh in a briefing, but have the responsibility of unveiling what additional evidence they collected and what people questioned in the case said. Many rumors are circulating both in Korea and in ethnic Korean communities in the United States about how Roh used the money received from Park.

Opposition parties and other critics have cried an “investigation for political revenge,” “a targeted probe,” or “political murder.” The main opposition Democratic Party is demanding a presidential apology; punishment of the justice minister and prosecutor general; questioning of the chief prosecutor who led the investigation; parliamentary investigation into state affairs; and a probe into President Lee Myung-bak’s confidants. The party is ready to boycott the parliamentary session this month over its demands. Prosecutors need to tell the truth about why they started investigating Roh’s family to maintain their reputation.

Even after Roh’s funeral, rumors are spreading that political power and prosecutors conspired and forced the former president to commit suicide. Even with the end of the probe, prosecutors must disclose what they have found out and let the people decide themselves. The government and prosecutors must keep in mind that groundless rumors of an assassination remain on the Internet.

When an ordinary person dies in an investigation, the case is terminated since prosecutors have no right to prosecute him or her. Roh, however, is someone who must be judged by future generations. A former president is a public figure while in office, after retirement, and even after his or her death.