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Seeking justice or winning a war of nerves?

Posted March. 30, 2013 06:59,   


Prosecutors on Thursday rejected a police request to place an exit ban on former Vice Justice Minister Kim Hak-ui, who resigned after being implicated in a sex bribery scandal. According to investigators, the denial of the travel ban was made because Kim is a witness rather than a suspect at this time. A decision to limit one’s freedom should be made carefully. The rejection, however, seems unfair considering that former National Intelligence Service Director Won Se-hoon was banned from leaving the country because of political pressure.

Though Won was sued by civic groups for allegedly intervening in last year’s presidential election, his travel ban was imposed before the investigation began. Prosecutors are being criticized for protecting Kim, a former senior prosecutor, though police suspect he was involved in the sex bribery scandal.

Police must assume responsibility for making slow progress. The National Forensic Service said a sex video in which Kim allegedly appears was not clear enough to identify the man in it. Even if the identity is confirmed, the video is inadmissible in court if the filming was done clandestinely. Several of the women who claimed to have provided sex to Kim have also made conflicting testimonies.

From the beginning, the probe has been conducting amid a war of nerves between prosecutors and police. Rumors were rampant about the video even before the police began its investigation, forcing Kim to step down as vice justice minister. A construction CEO, who is suspected to have provided prostitutes as bribes to influential officials and politicians, was cleared after being grilled by prosecutors three times. Police are looking into the possibility that senior prosecutors exerted their influence on this case. The war of nerves between the two law enforcement agencies could spoil fact-finding efforts.

It is highly implausible that Yoon invited high-ranking officials and influential politicians to his villa and wined and dined them for nothing. In previous cases, senior prosecutors were bribed by businesspeople on a regular basis. Investigators should leave no stone unturned to see if Yoon also “sponsored” senior prosecutors. Prosecutors should not check police investigations more than necessary to avoid inciting needless public criticism. Police should also try to resolve suspicions rather than inflating them.