Democrats seek to impeach 4 prosecutors, including those tied to probes into Lee Jae-myung

Posted on : 2024-07-03 17:33 KST Modified on : 2024-07-03 17:40 KST
The move is being criticized as the party acting as a shield for Lee as he faces multiple investigations

 

A motion to submit an impeachment motion regarding four public prosecutors to the National Assembly’s Legislation and Judiciary Committee was passed on July 2, 2024. (Yonhap) 
A motion to submit an impeachment motion regarding four public prosecutors to the National Assembly’s Legislation and Judiciary Committee was passed on July 2, 2024. (Yonhap) 

On Tuesday, Korea’s main opposition party submitted a motion for the impeachment of four prosecutors, of which several have been involved in investigations of Lee Jae-myung on a number of charges. The Democratic Party has adopted the impeachment as part of its official agenda.

Given the lack of any clearly illegal behavior in the four prosecutors’ various investigations, the impeachment is on shaky ground. That has led to criticism that the party is mostly trying to shield Lee, who recently stepped down as party head.

The four prosecutors whose impeachment motion was submitted to the National Assembly on Tuesday are Kang Baek-shin, with the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office; Kim Young-cheol, with the Seoul Northern District Prosecutors’ Office; Park Sang-yong, with the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office; and Uhm Hee-joon, head of the Bucheon branch of the Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office.

Kim Yong-min, a senior policy maker for the Democratic Party, gave the National Assembly an explanation of the motion of impeachment.

“The prosecution service has been committing all kinds of crimes and undermining the foundations of democracy while wielding the dual powers of investigation and indictment. The motion of impeachment we submit today is designed to prevent those behaviors. We refer the motion to the Legislation and Judiciary Committee under Article 130 of the National Assembly Act and ask the committee to conduct a thorough investigation,” Kim said.

As the ruling People Power Party boycotted the session, the Democratic Party voted to refer the impeachment motion to the National Assembly’s Legislation and Judiciary Committee.

An impeachment motion can either be put to a vote before the full session of the National Assembly between 24 and 72 hours after submission or it can be referred to the Legislation and Judiciary Committee for an investigation prior to the vote. That latter option was chosen by the Democratic Party, which evidently wants a full probe into the various investigations into Lee.

Kang Baek-shin and Uhm Hee-joon, who are among the four prosecutors the Democratic Party hopes to impeach, investigated alleged kickbacks in development projects in the Daejang and Baekhyeon neighborhoods, in which Lee was implicated, while working at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office.

Park Sang-yong investigated allegations about the SBW Group remitting funds to North Korea with the Suwon District Prosecutors Office. Kim Young-cheol is accused of cutting an illicit deal with Chang Si-ho, the niece of Choi Soon-sil (now known as Choi Seo-won) in the course of investigations and trials connected with ex-President Park Geun-hye’s influence-peddling scandal.

Prosecutor General Lee One-Seok held a press conference about the Democratic Party’s attempts to impeach the prosecutors. “Lee Jae-myung and the Democratic Party seem determined to usurp the role of the judiciary and redo these trials themselves,” the prosecutor general said.

An official from the presidential office added to the criticism. “In the end, the Democratic Party wants the investigative authority for itself so that it can carry out investigations however it pleases,” they said. 

By Lim Jae-woo, staff reporter; Um Ji-won, staff reporter; Jeong Hye-min, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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