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Justice minister prevents prosecution’s creating special unit

Justice minister prevents prosecution’s creating special unit

Posted January. 11, 2020 08:22,   

Updated January. 11, 2020 08:22


Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae on Friday made a special order to the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office to seek a pre-approval when creating an investigation unit outside the organization in what appears to be a measure to prevent Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-yeol from establishing a special investigation team with chief prosecutors, who have been relegated to district prosecutor’s offices.

The Ministry of Justice made the announcement around 1:40 p.m. that investigation units outside the prosecution should be established only in exceptionally urgent and inevitable cases and it requires a pre-approval from the Justice Minister, who is the head of prosecutory affairs. Justice Minister Choo is planning to stipulate it in the law when revising the relevant regulations.

According to the ministry’s official explanation, the new order is in line with the government’s prosecutorial reform, such as reducing the prosecution’s power to direct investigations. Experts say, however, that the move is intended to control the prosecutor general’s discretion in investigation.

The regulation of the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office allows the Prosecutor General to temporarily run a special investigation unit that is independent of the organization in case there is an important case that arouses public suspicion or draws public attention. The Prosecutor General can appoint a district director or a chief prosecutor as the head of the special investigation team and be briefed on the investigation.

Meanwhile, Prosecutor General Yoon carried out a search and seizure operation at Cheong Wa Dae Friday morning. The Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office raided the office of former presidential senior official Jang Hwan-seok, who is suspected of helping Ulsan Mayor Song Cheong-ho create his campaign pledges ahead of the local election on June 13, 2018. It was the third search and seizure operation conducted at Cheong Wa Dae since the incumbent administration took office. The search and seizure to obtain documents concerning election-meddling allegations came a day after the prosecution raided the house of Jang and the office of the Presidential Committee for Balanced National Development in the Central Government Complex in Seoul.

Dong-Jin Shin shine@donga.com · Seong-Ho Hwang hsh0330@donga.com