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- Why Are Prosecutors Dragging Feet over Illegal Bugging Reinvestigation?
Further material that could shed light on suspicions that the Prime Minister's Office illegally bugged civilians two years ago, and that Cheong Wa Dae intervened systematically in the destruction of evidence has been made public.
The data in question is a recording of a conversation that took place in October 2010 between Chang Jin-su, a former official at the PMO, and Choe Jong-seok, a Cheong Wa Dae official, one month before the ruling at Chang's primary trial.
The recording clearly reveals a process whereby, as soon as Chang says that he will mention in courthow Cheong Wa Dae gave the order to destroy evidence, Choe attempts to placate him, mentioning the office of the senior secretary to the president for political affairs and an official in charge of employment and labor issues.
Early this month, Chang revealed in an interview with the Kyunghyang Shinmun that Choe had said prosecutors had told the senior secretary's office that they did not intend to take issue with the bugging incident, and had ordered the destruction of hard discs.
In the recorded conversation, Choe says to Chang that if Chang reveals the truth, not only would the PMO's office not be free from it, but its head, Kwon Tae-sil, who had testified at a parliamentary inspection, could face charges of perjury.
Choe also says that, while he somewhat resents his superior, Lee Yeong-ho, a secretary for employment and labor issues, he had put himself on the line because he thought he could not hurt Lee any more at this point.
Choe goes on to ask Chang not to say anything extreme, since he will take good care of him for the rest of his life, whatever happens. This conversation clearly reveals the fact that the bugging of civilians and the project to destroy related evidence was linked to figures higher up in Cheong Wa Dae.
At the time, prosecutors investigating the illegal bugging of civilians only punished Chang and a few other employees of the Prime Minister's Office. Charges were made repeatedly that Cheong Wa Dae had played a role, too, but prosecutors failed to uncover the background to the charges.
The investigation by prosecutors, however, fell short of the mark. Their search and seizure operation came late, giving the PMO ample time to destroy hard discs beyond recovery, while they failed to question Choe even after learning that he had given Chang a falsely registered mobile phone.
The investigation was so bad that, at the time, even the prosecutor general and the minister of justice admitted that it was "inadequate."
Chang's revelations and the recording of his call with Choe provide concrete evidence of Cheong Wa Dae's systematic involvement in the case in question.
When Chang made his revelation, we urged prosecutors to reinvestigate the case immediately. They showed no signs of movement, however.
If prosecutors continue to hesitate, an investigation by a special prosecutor or by parliament will become inevitable. The same applies if a reinvestigation by prosecutors produces a disappointing result.
If prosecutors want to avoid the disgrace of becoming the object of investigation themselves, they should waste no more time in getting to the heart of the matter. Let us hope that the Cheong Wa Dae officials implicated in the illegal bugging case confess the truth to the public before any more time passes, and seek its forgiveness.
(Editorial, The Kyunghyang Daily News. March 13, 2012)
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