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[Editorial] Cho has to go

Prosecution must not rush to investigate; he must resign and undergo probes as an ordinary citizen

The prosecution raided the residence of Justice Minister Cho Kuk. It is a shame for the country, citizens and President Moon Jae-in.

As a matter of principle, his home should have been searched at the very beginning. The prosecution is giving the impression that it was considerate to Cho. However, with fresh allegations and new evidence coming to light almost every day, the important thing now is to find out the truth from the bottom.

The issuance of a search warrant indicates that the court finds that the allegations are convincing and it is also concerned about the destruction of evidence. If things proceed this way, the sitting justice minister will likely be summoned for questioning and indicted. This is hard to imagine in a democratic country, but it is happening.

In the hard discs removed earlier from the personal computers at Cho’s home by a private banker at the request of his wife and later submitted to the prosecution, there were reportedly two files of a certificate of internship issued by the Center for Public Interests and Human Rights Laws, an organization under Seoul National University’s School of Law.

One file is about Cho’s daughter and the other of the son of a Dankook University’s College of Medicine professor, who listed Choi’s daughter as lead author of a pathology thesis after she interned for him as a high school student.

The professor’s son is said to have told investigators that he “received a certificate of two-week internship from the center despite attending a seminar for one day. Cho’s daughter brought it.” This indicates the likelihood that the certificates were fabricated. This is why the prosecution is probing the possibility of Cho’s direct involvement.

Cho seems to have come to a dead end. His entire family is being investigated. His home was searched and his wife is already indicted for document forgery. In this disgraceful situation, it is common sense to resign.

Yet he looks determined to continue as justice minister. One cannot but wonder why he holds out and by extension, why Moon appointed him regardless of public concerns and opposition.

With his appointment, equality, fairness and justice have vanished. His family utilized means beyond ordinary people’s imagination in order to enroll his daughter in a university and a graduate school. The family also sought to amass wealth through dubious investments. And the head of the family serves as a minister and member of Moon’s Cabinet.

The public has seen the shamelessness of Cho and those who have covered up for him despite his bald-faced lies and hypocrisy. On the day his residence was searched for as long as 11 hours, he told reporters that he will try to fulfill reforms as justice minister. His words sound surreal and are difficult to understand.

The ruling party urged the prosecution to conclude investigations quickly. The party and Cheong Wa Dae may want to say that at least Cho alone was not found to have committed illegalities.

Investigations will conclude someday, but it is not sure whether all the suspicions will be clarified. Allegations keep piling up almost every day. Cho, his wife, son, daughter, younger brother and ex-wife of his younger brother are all under suspicions. His cousin once removed is locked up in a detention center. The prosecution should not rush to investigate the volatile scandal. It must probe thoroughly, leaving no stones unturned.

Moon said that “the prosecution must be able to investigate those in power if there are suspicions.” This is what a reformed prosecution should look like.

If ordinary people come under the same suspicions, they would have been already arrested. Cho must resign immediately and undergo investigations as an ordinary citizen. This is the right way to restore justice.