Former Vice Justice Minister Kim Hak-ui (Yonhap)
Police, after investigating four prosecutors accused of helping former Vice Justice Minister Kim Hak-ui escape justice in a sexual bribery scandal, said Thursday they could not determine whether the public prosecutors committed a crime.
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s Sophisticated Crime Investigation Division wrapped up their probe and sent the case to the prosecution late last month, with a recommendation that the four not be indicted.
Investigators at the division had looked into the accusations raised by 37 women’s civic groups that the prosecutors deliberately conducted shoddy probes into Kim. It reviewed such criminal charges as abuse of power and forgery of official documents against them but failed to find any supporting evidence, the police agency said.
Kim, who served as vice justice minister in 2013, was accused of having received sexual services arranged by a local developer, Yoon Joong-chun, on 13 occasions and having received bribes from Yoon and other businessmen from 2006 to 2011.
Initial Investigations kicked off in March 2013 after a video clip was leaked during an adultery probe against Yoon in 2012. The video showed a drunken orgy at a private mansion where a number of men, including one who appeared to be Kim, are apparently engaged in a sex party with several women.
Police at that time recommended rape charges for Kim and Yoon when referring the case to the prosecution in July 2013, but the prosecution killed the case later, saying the identities of women in the video could not be verified.
A woman claiming to be one of those captured in the video filed suit against Kim and Yoon in 2014, claiming that she was drugged and raped, but the prosecution again closed the case with the same result. They never interrogated Kim on the rape charges.
This led to a public outcry, with many claiming that the shoddy investigations into Kim exemplify problems stemming from the prosecution having the exclusive authority to indict. Kim, before being promoted to the vice minister’s post, was a senior prosecutor.
The probe restarted in March last year following a recommendation from a truth panel under the Justice Ministry.
Last week, the Supreme Court confirmed the conviction of Kim on some bribery charges and sentenced him to 2 1/2 years in prison. Yoon was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison on charges of fraud and bribery. But Kim did not face any punishment for the videotaped sex party, or the sex services he received from Yoon.
The court, while saying it was him in the video, said the statute of limitation had already expired on the sex crimes.
According to local reports, the police investigators who decided to not to call for charges on the prosecutors did not question the accused prosecutors or formally requested probe records from them.
They reviewed the criminality of the case through related documents, including some the prosecution submitted voluntarily, and legal reviews.
By Ko Jun-tae (firstname.lastname@example.org