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[Newsmaker] Chief prosecutor nominee vows political neutrality

Prosecutor General nominee Moon Moo-il pledged Monday to ensure political neutrality and rebuild public trust that has been marred by what critics say are lopsided investigations into high-profile cases involving leading politicians and major corporations. 

Prosecutor General nominee Moon Moo-il (Yonhap)
Prosecutor General nominee Moon Moo-il (Yonhap)

At his parliamentary confirmation hearing, ruling and opposition lawmakers wrestled over Cheong Wa Dae’s recent disclosure of massive sheaves of documents left behind by the Park Geun-hye administration, which could affect the ongoing trials related to the corruption scandal involving the disgraced former president. 

Some members of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, which was once chaired by Park and has lodged a lawsuit against some presidential secretaries over the disclosure, called for Moon to examine how the papers were discovered if appointed, saying it constitutes a divulgence of official secrets and breach of related laws. 

The ruling Democratic Party of Korea, in contrast, countered that the documents were not formally designated as classified and included crucial evidence to shore up the accusations that Park had abused her power to facilitate Samsung Group’s leadership succession in return for donations to slush funds. 

“If I take office, I will look into the case properly and thoroughly probe it by securing political neutrality,” Moon said. “I will see if there is anything that could be taken as clues of a crime and treat it according to the law and principles.” 

The 56-year-old seasoned prosecutor vowed to put top priority on “transparent, righteous and open” investigation into all cases, while carrying out long-delayed prosecution reform in line with President Moon Jae-in’s election promise. 

“I am well-aware that citizens have great concerns with regard to the prosecution’s political neutrality and transparency,” the nominee said. “I will make sure that prosecutors remain completely politically neutral and solely pursue truth in their investigations.” 

But he displayed a reserved stance toward the president’s initiative to rid the prosecution of the monopoly of investigation and indictment authority, and grant police independent probe rights without the prosecution’s supervision. 

“It is not easy (for the prosecution) to determine whether it should indict a criminal with the records of a police investigation only,” he said. 

“The prosecution needs to conduct complementary, secondary investigations after police probes, and be able to undertake direct, special investigations into some cases to address corruption and irregularities in society.”

Moon Moo-il acknowledged the risks of political influence associated with the independent counsel system, which is typically used for major corruption scandals.

He also said he will increase efforts to safeguard human rights in the investigation process and integrity among prosecutors in light of a recent series of bribery cases. 

“It is true that compared with other advanced countries, the special investigation system is used excessively,” the nominee said, pledging to craft institutional measures to retain its fairness. 

By Shin Hyon-hee (
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Korea Herald daum