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Prosecutors up in arms over plan to scrap key investigative unit

Prosecutors on Saturday are going all out to reject lawmakers' plans to abolish a key investigation unit of the state prosecution as part of their judicial reform efforts.

A subpanel of the special legislative committee on judicial reform announced on Friday that it agreed to press ahead with its legislation plan to scrap the central investigation unit of the Supreme Prosecutors' Office despite strong opposition by prosecutors.

The lawmakers cited the unit's vulnerability to political pressure as the key reason for sticking to the plan.

The decision triggered harsh, organized protests from prosecutors with some in the unit calling the move "an open interruption" of a probe in progress.

The legislative move came as prosecutors moved the focus of their probe into now-suspended savings banks to former and incumbent ranking government officials and politicians who allegedly received bribes from the banks in return for helping them avoid punishment for their irregularities.
The central investigation unit of the SPO is currently in charge of the probe into Busan Savings Bank, which is at the center of the ever-widening scandal.

"I'm embarrassed because I thought lawmakers would close the issue with a recommendation, without legislation," a senior prosecutor said, requesting not to be named. 

"I take this decision seriously, as including the issue in a legislation plan means they will force the shutdown of the unit."

Prosecutor General Kim Joon-gyu is to convene an emergency meeting of senior prosecutors on Monday to discuss how to respond despite the national Memorial Day holiday, according to officials at the SPO.
 
(Yonhap News) 
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