Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl pledged to drastically reform his agency at a parliamentary audit Thursday.
|Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl (Yonhap)|
“All of us are aware that the people are demanding prosecution reform more strongly than ever,” he said. “We respect their voices and the parliament’s decisions, and will also come up with our own reform measures.”
His remarks reaffirming the agency’s commitment to reform come three days after former Justice Minister Cho Kuk resigned from his post.
The audit session, overseen by the Legislation and Judiciary Committee, saw liberal and conservative parties sparring over Cho’s resignation amid corruption allegations targeting his family.
Members of the ruling Democratic Party took issue with the prosecution’s investigation of Cho.
“A majority of Koreans criticize the prosecution and don’t trust it,” said Rep. Kim Jong-min of the Democratic Party during the audit.
“As the chief prosecutor, you should hear them out,” he said, singling out Yoon.
Members of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, on the other hand, offered no major objections and encouraged the chief prosecutor to continue the investigation into Cho’s family.
Yoon said he's seeing some progress in the investigation despite the criticism that it wasn’t leading to anything substantial.
He explained that the prosecution was maintaining a tight control over information so the details of the case will remain confidential. “That’s what the law stipulates.”
Yoon further clarified his views on major sticking points in the proposed reforms such as introducing an independent body to oversee crimes committed by high ranking government officials and closing down the prosecution’s special units that investigate select white-collar crimes.
He agreed to setting up an independent body, empowered by the law, to probe into senior government officials facing corruption charges.
“An independent body means decentralizing the prosecution’s power. I am not against it as long as there are more avenues available to effectively tackle corruption,” he said.
However, expressing reservations at cutting down special investigation units within the prosecution that track down white-collar crimes, he noted that this could weaken the prosecution’s role of keeping a close eye on select financial crimes.
Yoon also said he might withdraw a complaint he filed against local weekly magazine Hankyoreh 21.
The magazine earlier reported that he had been associated with businessman Yoon Joong-cheon, who is accused of bribing powerful figures including former Vice Justice Minister Kim Hak-eui and arranging sexual services as part of the bribery.
Yoon denied the accusation and lodged a criminal defamation complaint, saying he would retract the complaint if the magazine prints a public apology.
By Choi Si-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)