Prosecution faces credibility crisis

By Kim Yon-se

Sexual abuse, bribe cases undermine public trust

  • Published : Aug 25, 2014 - 21:16
  • Updated : Aug 25, 2014 - 21:16
The prosecution is continuing to face a crisis of credibility with a series of personal misdeeds committed by a number of prosecutors and investigators over the past few years.

Further, the prosecution received public criticism for handing down mild sanctions on “family,” or incumbent prosecutors, engaged in sex or bribery scandals. The severity of the punishments appears to have been somewhat milder than those for ordinary suspects.

Following the recent case of lewd conduct by former chief of Jeju District Prosecutors’ Office Kim Soo-chang, an investigator at the Uijeongbu District Prosecutors’ Office allegedly sexually harassed a female employee.

The investigator reportedly said during night duty with the woman, “I’d like to hug you. I want to touch your hands.”

Though the employee continued to rebuff his advances, the investigator was found to have continued to verbally harass her, according to the sanction committee at the Seoul Appellate Court.

The committee said it is scheduled to decide whether to hand down punitive action against the Uijeongbu investigator in mid-September.

Ex-Jeju senior prosecutor Kim was taken into custody last Wednesday after police received reports that a man had unzipped his pants and exposed himself in front of a female student in her teens near a restaurant in downtown Jeju City this month.

Though the Ministry of Justice had already accepted his offer to step down from his post as the chief of the Jeju Prosecutors’ Office, netizens are denouncing the ministry and the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office for not dismissing him from the legal circle.

As Kim was merely driven out of his post, he could be allowed to join a law firm or open a private law office.

The law enforcement authority’s apparently mild sanctions on “family” were also seen in the case of a prosecutor involved in bribery.

In early August, the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office decided not to indict an incumbent prosecutor who was suspected of taking some 1 million won ($980) in kickbacks from a businessman.

Instead of indicting the suspect, the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office said it would ask the Ministry of Justice to relieve him of his duties.

In 2012, a prosecutor in his 30s was accused of having sex with a female suspect in her 40s at his office and a motel, allegedly in return for favors while he was interrogating her at his office.

The prosecutor was investigating the female suspect for allegedly stealing goods worth around 4.5 million won from a store.

Former Vice Justice Minister Kim Hak-ui has come under investigation by the prosecution yet again for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman while working as a senior prosecutor from 2006-2008.

Though the prosecution cleared Kim and closed the case initially carried out by the police in November 2013, citing a lack of evidence, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said Wednesday that the woman recently refiled rape charges against the 57-year-old with the investigative agency.

As for the video footage, seized by police last year, that reportedly showed Kim and other influential figures having sex parties with the woman and possibly several other women, the 37-year-old victim denied during the previous investigation that she was the figure in the clip.

Last year, then-Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook continuously lied to the public about his extramarital affair. Later, investigators confirmed that an elementary school boy was Chae’s child born out of wedlock.

By Kim Yon-se (