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(EDITORIAL from the JoongAng Daily on March 6)

All Headlines 07:20 March 06, 2012

Blue House must clear suspicion

There is a lingering suspicion that the Blue House stepped into an illegal investigation of civilians and orchestrated the efforts to destroy the evidence. It all started with the allegation in 2010 that the public ethics division of the Prime Minister’s Office had engaged in unauthorized surveillance of ordinary citizens. The case seemed to have been closed with the conclusion that the public ethics division committed the crime on its own.

But the suspicion that the Blue House was potentially involved in the illegal investigations continued. Jang Jin-su, a senior official with the ethics division, announced in an interview that “the Blue House had ordered a destruction of evidence,” singling out Choi Jong-seok, who was then an administrative officer with the labor and employment office at the Blue House.

The case began with a stunning revelation from Kim Jong-ik - former CEO of NS Hanmaum, a subsidiary of KB Financial Group - that he had to resign from his post after having posted on his blog a video clip critical of President Lee Myung-bak. He said he had received a great deal of pressure from the public ethics division of the Prime Minister’s Office - including search and seizure.

Later, several officials in the Prime Minister’s Office, including Lee In-kyu, then head of the public ethics division, were indicted for abuse of power and sentenced to prison terms at a second trial. While the trial was underway, however, the allegations continued - including one that a Blue House official gave to Lee a mobile phone in someone else’s name so that he could destroy all of the relevant data in his personal computer. But the prosecution simply dismissed the allegation, citing a “critical lack of evidence.”

However, Jang Jin-su, the senior official with the ethics division, has given detailed testimony about the allegation. He said that Choi, the administrative officer at the Blue House, had ordered him to destroy all the hardware on his PC. Jang added that the Blue House struck a deal with the prosecution to find him not guilty of destruction of evidence. The prosecution flatly denied it.

We hope what the prosecution says is correct. If not, it means that the prosecution itself has committed an unconscionable crime by colluding with the Blue House to fabricate the results of its investigation, going way beyond a cover-up. The Blue House and the prosecution should now clarify the persistent suspicions about the case, and if anything went wrong, those responsible must be brought to justice.
(END)

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