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Prosecuting the Deceased

Posted August. 19, 2010 13:30,   


The bribery scandal of former Taekwang Industry Chairman Park Yeon-cha has been brought up again in the run-up to the confirmation hearings for the prime minister-designate and other Cabinet nominees. Park was found guilty of bribing a relative of the late President Roh Moo-hyun. The Roh Moo-hyun Foundation is suing National Police Agency Commissioner-designate Cho Hyun-oh for defaming Roh. Prosecutors will investigate to see if Cho committed defamation. To determine if the reputation of the deceased was damaged, prosecutors must first confirm if Roh had a borrowed-name bank account as Cho claimed.

The suspicion over former President Roh cannot be left unchecked because he cannot defend himself. Unfounded speculation should not mire the historically important case, which was closed due to the “lack of the right to indict” after Roh’s suicide. Through this opportunity, this allegation must be cleared up.

For starters, Cho must clarify what he meant by his comment and present evidence to back it up. Having wielded strong influence over information as Seoul police chief, he should be punished if he did spread false rumors about Roh and would certainly be unqualified for national police commissioner. Defamation of the deceased is a crime subject to up to two years in prison and a fine of up to five million won (4,270 U.S. dollars).

At the time of the investigation into Roh, prosecutors said he had no bank accounts under borrowed names but related documents have never been disclosed. Prosecutor Lee In-gyu of the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office, who was selected to testify for Prime Minister-designate Kim Tae-ho because he led the investigation into Park, said, “I will release all the facts I know at the confirmation hearing.” If Lee discloses what he found in the investigation with no political consideration, this will end the needless controversy over Roh’s alleged bank accounts under borrowed names.

Certain politicians urge the introduction of an independent prosecutor but this is impractical. An investigation is supposed to be carried out on the condition that the case goes to trial, but there is no right to indict because the subject of the investigation is dead. Though an investigation is underway to clear the suspicion, a perfect probe is impossible.