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(LEAD) Prosecution's direct investigation units to be reduced

All Headlines 17:22 January 21, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS info in last 4 paras)

SEOUL, Jan. 21 (Yonhap) -- Direct investigation units at South Korea's prosecution will be reduced starting next week as an earlier plan for the organizational restructuring was approved by the Cabinet, the Ministry of Justice said Tuesday.

Under the move, the number of units under the anti-corruption department at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office will be halved from four to two, the justice ministry said in a press release. The previous two units will be transferred to criminal and trial affairs departments.

The restructuring will also see five public security units at district offices across the nation be changed to criminal affairs units, leaving only eight units to focus on public security cases.

The prosecution's logo at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office in southern Seoul (Yonhap)

The ministry, which oversees the administration of the prosecution, said the move to expand criminal affairs units is inevitable amid the recent passage of reform bills.

Adding momentum to President Moon Jae-in's prosecution reform drive, the National Assembly in December and January passed a set of bills aiming to reform the prosecution, which Moon claimed "is still powerful" in his press conference last Tuesday.

The bills include adjusting investigative rights to give more investigative power to the police and establishing an independent anti-corruption investigative agency.

The justice ministry said the organizational change of expanding criminal and trial affairs unit is likely to contribute to the speedy process of livelihood-related cases.

It added that it plans to closely cooperate with the police so that the reduction of direct investigation units will not impact anti-corruption investigations.

The organizational restructuring is set to go into effect next Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet endorsed the administration's plan for an inter-Korean co-hosting of the Summer Olympic Games in 2032. The proposal calls for the government to establish basic plans and expedite related measures.

Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed during their summit in September 2018 in Pyongyang to push for a joint Olympic bid.

The Cabinet also approved three revised educational laws aimed at improving accounting transparency and curbing irregularities at private kindergartens that receive government subsidies.

The three bills, devised in the wake of corruption allegations among preschool owners in 2018, were passed by the National Assembly on Jan. 13.

mlee@yna.co.kr
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