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Lawmakers Who Used Violence Going Unpunished

Posted November. 06, 2009 08:43,   


When two opposition lawmakers were indicted for damaging public property in June, an official at the Seoul District Prosecutors’ Office announced a crackdown on parliamentary violence.

Four month later, the office proposed a fine of three million won (2,538 U.S. dollars) for main opposition Democratic Party lawmaker Moon Hak-jin and one million won for his colleague Lee Jung-hyun.

Moon wielded a hammer but broke a doorknob only, and prosecutors considered his right to deliberate the disputed bill on the free trade agreement with the U.S. as a member of the National Assembly’s committee on diplomacy and international trade.

Prosecutors also sought prison terms of eight to 12 months for Democratic Party officials and assistant staff involved in the violence.

Moon was indicted on breaking the doorknob of parliament’s main session room with a hammer after committee chairman Park Jin of the ruling Grand National Party invoked his right to maintain order to prevent opposition lawmakers from entering the room.

Lee is charged with breaking lawmakers’ name plates by throwing them to the ground.

Rep. Joo Sung-young told The Dong-A Ilbo yesterday that prosecutors’ suggestions showed their “unserious” awareness of parliamentary violence, demanding heavier punishment.

Moon said he regrets the incident but added he had no choice because he was blocked from exercising his right to deliberate the bills.

Critics say parliament has no right to blame prosecutors. The parliamentary special committee on ethics banned Moon from attending any National Assembly session for 30 days, but parliament failed to hold a plenary meeting of the committee to approve the decision.

Ruling party lawmaker Lee Han-koo, chairman of the ethics committee, told Dong-A over the phone that he has not held a meeting since taking office as the panel’s chairman in July.

Ruling party officials criticized the main opposition party for not responding to a meeting proposal after Democratic Party Rep. Lee Choon-seok resigned as manager of the committee.

The Democratic Party’s Lee said the ruling party is reluctant to hold the plenary meeting because many of its lawmakers have been taken to the ethics committee.

kimkihy@donga.com firedy@donga.com