Prosecution should find truth
Former police chief Cho Hyun-oh was questioned by the prosecution Wednesday over remarks that former President Roh Moo-hyun took his own life a day after his hidden bank accounts had been discovered.
Cho apologized to the late President and his bereaved family, on leaving the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office after seven hours of questioning. Yet he refused to reveal if he submitted evidence supporting his claim on Roh’s borrowed-name accounts.
Both Cho and the prosecution deserve blame for the potential corruption case. Cho, who made the bombshell announcement in March 2010, has reiterated ambiguous remarks. He solicited forgiveness from Roh’s family during a confirmation hearing for his nomination as commissioner of the National Police Agency, but in press interviews, he has often said, ``It would be undesirable for me to comment on whether my claim is true or not.’’
Most recently, Cho pressured Roh’s family, the plaintiff, saying, ``I had no other alternative but to speak in consideration of the police’s honor unless the family drops the case.’’
The prosecution, for its part, has been consistently passive about the case, resulting in the protracted investigation. Even after sending written questions, the prosecution didn’t act, saying Cho refused to reply.
Given the potential explosiveness of the case, the prosecution’s hesitation may be understandable. Yet once Cho was questioned, it would be better for the prosecution to dig deeper into the case to find if Roh’s hidden accounts really exist.
Roh jumped off a cliff behind his house May 23 2009 while the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office was investigating his wife and close confidants for taking bribes from a businessman. The prosecution didn’t look into the matter further, saying it had no authority to indict in the wake of Roh’s death.
Cho made his controversial remarks on Roh’s false accounts in March 2010 and the late President’s family filed a complaint against him for defaming Roh in August 2010.
The former police chief, for his part, should reveal exactly what he knows. Earlier, he said he wouldn’t reveal the identity of the person who informed him of the borrowed-name accounts. But he has to change his stance, taking into account the prosecution has embarked on a full-blown probe. Should Cho fail to provide clear evidence supporting his claim, he must pay the highest price for his groundless accusations.
As things stand now, we don’t rule out the possibility that Roh’s hidden accounts may exist, given that Lee In-kyu, a former senior prosecutor who led the investigation into the former President, indicated that one of Roh’s aides had managed borrowed-name accounts.
Now the prosecution should make utmost efforts to find the truth although we don’t want the case to escalate into another massive political scandal ahead of the third anniversary of Roh’s death that falls on May 23. The probe should focus on if there were hidden accounts and if Roh jumped to death due to their discovery.