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The rule of law

Mar 28,2017
The prosecution’s last-minute decision to request a court-issued arrest warrant for former President Park Geun-hye on charges of bribery among others is a symbolic step to reconfirm the rule of law in our democracy. The prosecution’s move is a clear manifestation of the democratic principle “No one is above the law.”

Even though it marks a sad chapter in our constitutional democracy, it will certainly be recorded as a monumental milestone in the history of our criminal justice system. We welcome the prosecution’s prompt call for Park’s arrest six days after they summoned the former president for questioning.

A special investigation team cited three reasons for Park’s arrest.

First, the gravity of the issue. The prosecution based its decision on Park’s infringing on companies’ business by exploiting her privilege as president and on her leaks of government documents. Among 13 charges, a decisive one was the suspicion that she received 43.3 billion won ($38.9 million) in bribes from Samsung Electronics by colluding with her confidante Choi Soon-sil to help its Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong beef up his managerial control over the conglomerate. If convicted, Park will spend at least ten years behind bars.

The prosecution’s accommodation of an independent counsel’s idea of indicting the president on bribery charges reflects their confidence in proving the charges. Legal experts believe that the prosecution has obtained enough evidence to prove a quid pro quo in donations by SK Chairman Chey Tae-won as well.

Second, it’s a question of fairness. As Park’s aides, including former policy coordination secretary An Chong-bum, and Samsung’s Vice Chairman Lee, are under arrest for giving bribes, it would not be even-handed if the prosecution does not arrest the alleged bribe receiver as well.

Third, there’s a possibility of destruction of evidence. Park has consistently denied her involvement in the scandal and may want to get rid of evidence.

Prosecutor General Kim Soo-nam reportedly expressed his agony over the difficult decision, saying, “Nevertheless, it was a step toward the rule of law.” We urge the former president to accept the court’s decision.

JoongAng Ilbo, March 28, Page 30