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Justice minister nominee vows to nail down Moon's prosecution reform drive

All News 17:43 January 25, 2021

SEOUL, Jan. 25 (Yonhap) -- Justice Minister nominee Park Beom-kye on Monday pledged to follow through with the Moon Jae-in administration's drive to reform the state prosecution service.

Park, currently a three-term lawmaker with the ruling Democratic Party (DP), made the pledge during a parliamentary confirmation hearing held at the National Assembly in Seoul.

"As the closing pitcher of the Moon Jae-in administration, I will commit myself to the path to solidifying the system for prosecution reform, enhancing its organizational culture and innovating the administration of legal affairs," the nominee said.

In early January, the president tapped Park, a former judge, as his fourth justice minister entrusted to spearhead the reform of so-called powerful institutions, including the state prosecution service, which has been often accused of abusing its authority to investigate and indict.

"Protecting human rights and attaining the smooth establishment of due legal procedures and systems would constitute the completion of prosecution reform as well as my mission," Park noted.

"I firmly believe that the prosecution reform will be brought to completion only when prosecutors are reborn as guardians of the people's human rights," Park added.

Justice Minister nominee Park Beom-kye speaks during a parliamentary confirmation hearing in Seoul on Jan. 25, 2021. (Yonhap)

Justice Minister nominee Park Beom-kye speaks during a parliamentary confirmation hearing in Seoul on Jan. 25, 2021. (Yonhap)

The nominee also suggested that the politically controversial prosecution investigation involving a former deputy justice minister be transferred to the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials (CIO), a new anti-corruption investigative body which set sail last week.

The investigation involving former Vice Justice Minister Kim Hak-ui was launched earlier this month over allegations, raised by opposition lawmakers, that prosecutors bypassed due procedures in 2019 to issue an overseas travel ban on the former vice minister. Later that year, the prosecution formally launched a reinvestigation into Kim's alleged bribery and sexual misconduct.

"It would be correct to hand the case over to the CIO in accordance with the related law," the justice minister nominee said in response to DP Rep. Kim Yong-min's query suggesting that a case that holds prosecutors as the subject of investigation needs to be referred to the CIO.


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