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Overeager to detain

July 07,2018
The prosecution’s request for an arrest warrant for Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Yang-ho on a number of charges, including tax evasion and frauds, was rejected by a court Friday. That wraps up the court’s repeated refusals to issue arrest warrants for Cho and his wife Lee Myung-hee, who faced charges of assaulting and insulting employees.

The Seoul Central District Court also did not accept the prosecution’s demand for arrest warrants for former minister of employment and labor Lee Chae-pil on suspicions over his alleged support for the establishment of a confederation of labor unions to counter two existing umbrella unions with financial support from the National Intelligence Service, and for Rep. Kwon Sung-dong, a third-term lawmaker of the Liberty Korea Party, on charges of helping his acquaintances’ children get hired by Kangwon Land Casino. The court made the same decision with KEB Hana Bank President Ham Young-joo, who was involved in a recruitment scandal.

The reason for the spate of rejections is one of two: the prosecution either excessively sought court-issued arrest warrants or the court made a wrong decision. In minister Lee’s case, the prosecution criticized the court for having different standards on suspicious intention. But the court countered that by arguing that there is room for disputes over the suspicions (in Chairman Cho’s case), a question on criminality of the suspect’s acts (in Rep. Kwon’s case), and a lack of evidence (in former minister Lee’s case).

As details of the suspicions are not revealed, it is too early to determine which side is right. But the prosecution based the need for arrest warrants for Cho’s wife on her agreement with her victims to end the case as it thought that suggested the possibility of destruction of evidence. Of course, the Cho family’s shameful behavior deserve condemnation. But it goes against common sense for prosecutors to try to find fault with a suspect’s agreement with victims.

Judicial circles point to a gap between prosecutors’ eagerness to indict suspects and their capability. Even when they are lacking facts, they push investigations hard to show off their accomplishments.

For suspects living in detention, it is a terrible experience. We urge the prosecution to approach such requests in a humble way. In his augural address, Prosecutor General Moon Moo-il vowed to prioritize human rights. He must apologize if he really finds problems with the way his junior prosecutors are doing their job.

JoongAng Sunday, July 7, Page 34