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Top Prosecutor Blasts Acquittal in Mad-cow Program Case

Posted January. 21, 2010 07:54,   


Prosecutor General Kim Jun-gyu criticized yesterday the acquittal of five TV news staff members who produced a controversial program on the government’s resumption of U.S. beef imports.

The five are producers or staff of the broadcast network MBC and had been indicted for defaming government officials in their report criticizing the decision to resume U.S. beef imports in early 2008.

Such open criticism by the country’s top prosecutor is extremely rare. Tension between the judiciary and the prosecution has risen in the wake of a series of court rulings going against prosecutors.

The head of the progressive Democratic Labor Party, Kang Ki-kap, was acquitted of committing violence in parliament. A court also ordered the disclosure of investigation documents on the deaths of civilians who protested a redevelopment project in Seoul’s Yongsan district last year.

Kim held a meeting with senior prosecutors on the rulings and ordered them to formulate responses.

“It seems many people are anxious over the judiciary’s rulings,” the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office quoted him as saying at the meeting.

“I express regret over the judiciary’s handing down of unconvincing rulings in major cases that shook up the country.”

The latest ruling on the MBC case also runs counter to another ruling in June last year, which ordered the network to broadcast a correction or rebuttal after finding that the information in the program in question was mostly fabricated.

The Seoul Central District Court also acquitted the five defendants, who work for the current affairs program “PD Notebook,” of defaming former Agriculture Minister Chung Woon-chun and a senior agricultural official by exaggerating and distorting the risks of mad-cow disease involving U.S. beef.

The court also ruled that they did not purposely seek to obstruct the business of U.S. beef importers.

A group representing MBC producers and other media associations welcomed the decision, saying the court ruled against the incumbent administration’s arbitrary management and for democracy and the public responsibility of the media.

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