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Prosecutors' backlash intensifies against justice minister's suspension of prosecution chief

All News 12:15 November 26, 2020

SEOUL, Nov. 26 (Yonhap) -- Prosecutors around the country are expected to hold emergency meetings to discuss the justice minister's unprecedented move to suspend and discipline the chief prosecutor over allegations of his interference in sensitive investigations, legal sources said Thursday.

Earlier in the day, six top district prosecutors pleaded with Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae to rethink the decision in a statement posted on the online bulletin board of the prosecution.

They expressed concerns over perceived risk of political neutrality of the prosecution and said that the prosecutor general's term should be legally guaranteed as it is designed to protect the prosecution from undue "political interference."

They also questioned whether the minister's recent series of orders to ban Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl from being involved in controversial investigations was "carried out in a prudent and restrained manner."

This photo shows the building of the Supreme Prosecutors Office in Seoul on Nov. 25, 2020. (Yonhap)

Their worries echoed the sentiment expressed by a group of rank and file prosecutors the previous day.

On Wednesday, two groups of prosecutors, in Seoul and Busan, issued statements in protest of what they call Choo's "illegal and unjust" measure.

"Justice Minister Choo's action seriously undermines the rule of law and violates the independence of the prosecution," a group of prosecutors in charge of research and planning at the Supreme Prosecutors Office in Seoul said in a statement.

They requested the minister withdraw the decision so that prosecutors can fulfill their duties "in accordance with the Constitution and conscience."

Prosecutors of the eastern branch of the Busan District Prosecutors Office also held a meeting Wednesday and said the decision was "unjust" because "the facts have not been fully confirmed."

Meanwhile, the justice ministry said it will convene a seven-member committee next Wednesday to decide the level of disciplinary action against Yoon.

The top prosecutor has filed an injunction with the Seoul Administrative Court to stop the suspension decision from taking effect.

He is said to claim that the allegations against him raised by the minister are largely untrue and exaggerated, and that even if some of the accusations are partly true, they were not serious enough to merit suspension of duty.

Yoon is expected to file a lawsuit against the decision during the day.

The file photos shows Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae (L) and Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl (R). (Yonhap)

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr
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