The Korea Herald


Prosecutor, police investigation right dispute reignites


Published : Oct. 12, 2011 - 19:39

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Justice Ministry officials and prosecutors here have sparked protests from police officers by submitting a draft of a presidential decree limiting the investigational rights of police to the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday.

The draft submitted by the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office and the Ministry of Justice limits the investigative rights of the National Police Agency to questioning and information gathering in independent probes.

Under the draft, police will now require authorization by prosecutors before tracing bank records, and conducting search and seizures among other things.

According to high-ranking police officers, the prosecutors’ office is attempting to turn its back on the public and the promise for more transparency, by reducing the independent investigational rights of police, and expansion of authority.

The draft reignited an old conflict between police and prosecution, which was thought to have been laid to rest last June. A revised bill was passed by the National Assembly, weakening prosecutors’ authority over police investigations.

“The draft of the enforcement decree submitted by the Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office destroys the revised bill that passed through the National Assembly last June,” said an unnamed high-level NPA source.

“As the contents of this draft were not discussed with the NPA prior to being submitted, we cannot accept it,” he said.

According to the revised criminal procedures code which will take effect Jan. 1, the police need authorization from prosecutors for all investigations, except for independent probes.

According to the former Justice Minister Lee Kwi-nam, private inquiries are not included in investigations.

The move has vastly increased the command authority of prosecutors to include procedures that were common practice by police.

“If I started to say what is on my mind, I could say a lot but I don’t believe commenting on the situation will help both sides,” said NPA chief Cho Hyun-oh. “I believe eventually we will reach an agreement that is the right thing to do,” he added.

By Robert Lee (