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Time to clear the connection

July 11,2019
Prosecutor General nominee Yoon Seok-youl has been accused of lying under oath in his legislative confirmation hearing. He denied any involvement in arranging Lee Nam-seok — an attorney who had served in the Central Investigation Bureau of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office with the nominee — to defend Yoon Woo-jin, ex-chief of the National Tax Service’s Yongsan District Office, under bribery charges. If the accusation is true, it can fall under conflict of interest and meddling in prosecutorial investigation. The ex-chief of the tax office was the elder brother of Yoon Dae-jin, a senior prosecutor in the Ministry of Justice. The nominee is said to be very close to Yoon of the Justice Ministry. But a taped conversation proved otherwise. The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) demanded Yoon withdraw himself from the nomination for lying in the confirmation hearing.

During the hearing, Prosecutor General nominee Yoon was asked numerous times whether he had introduced the lawyer to Yoon Woo-jin — the head of the tax office — to help settle his bribery case in 2012. He denied every time. But an online news platform reported on a taped conversation where Yoon, the nominee, admitted he had asked the lawyer — Lee Nam-seok — to meet with the tax official in trouble. After the taped file was revealed, Yoon apologized for causing a “misunderstanding.” But he denied that he had pressed the lawyer to take up the case.

Yoon’s confirmation looks murky as both LKP and minor opposition Bareunmirae Party opposed his nomination for dishonesty. The ruling Democratic Party (DP) pointed out that the nominee had not committed any wrongdoing. Yoon Dae-jin of the Justice Ministry claimed that it was he who had introduced the lawyer to his brother. Lee, the lawyer in question, also said he met the tax official through his younger brother to give some tips and did not defend him in police questioning.

The nominee should have told the truth to lawmakers questioning him on behalf of the people. If he had lied, he cannot be relied on for the senior office in charge of upholding justice in the top law enforcement agency. Candidates for senior government positions must not hide or misrepresent the truth, no matter what.

A prosecutor-general must oversee over 2,000 prosecutors as well as law and order. The chief should be free from any suspicions if he really wants to be relied on when he spearheads politically sensitive cases. The nominee must tell the whole story behind the allegations to leave no doubts.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 10, Page 30