Prosecutor-General Protests Against New Investigative Body

  • By Hwang Dae-jin

    March 04, 2021 11:49

    Maverick Prosecutor-General Yoon Suk-yeol on Wednesday reminded the government why it is so desperate to get him out and bring independent law enforcement to heel.

    "The prosecution of the people signifies independence from pressure from above, while punishing even those in power according to principle in order to protect the weak," Yoon said during a visit to the High Prosecutors' Office in Daegu. "This is our responsibility under the Constitution."

    He added, "A fair prosecution ensures that no citizen suffers injustice. The stripping of all investigative powers from prosecutors being pursued by the [ruling] Minjoo Party constitutes absolute corruption."

    Prosecution reforms, initially welcomed as a drive to make the prosecution more transparent and less subservient to those in power, have quickly turned sour and are now widely seen as the opposite.

    As part of these efforts, the Minjoo Party has railroaded through the National Assembly the creation of a new compliant body tasked with investigating any corruption allegations against holders of high office.

    After a botched campaign to drive Yoon out of office that made him a Robin Hood-style hero to the people, Yoon now remains a thorn in the side of the government until his term ends in July.

    Prosecutor-General Yoon Suk-yeol (center) arrives at the High Prosecutors' Office in Daegu on Wednesday. /Yonhap

    Some predict that Yoon will step down before the April by-elections once the new body is formally set up, in which case he would be free to turn to politics. But when asked if he would resign, Yoon said, "It's difficult to answer that question right now" and was equally coy about his political ambitions, adding, "I don't think this is the proper place to comment on that."

    A prosecution source said, "In the present situation, Yoon strongly believes there is not much he can do by remaining in his post."

    The Minjoo Party is afraid of fueling Yoon's popularity further and is keeping quiet because it is reasonably confident of winning the mayoral by-elections in Seoul and Busan. But Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun urged Yoon to "step down" from the job "if he wishes to clearly speak his mind."

    The main opposition People Power Party has no reason to love Yoon, who has eaten into the popularity of its own candidates. PPP lawmaker Kweon Seong-dong said, "I believe Yoon's remarks express his intention to enter the political arena. I have no choice but to acknowledge him as an opposition candidate."

    On Thursday morning, Yoon abruptly called a press conference for 2 p.m the same day, and many expect he will announce his resignation."

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