(3rd LD) Rival parties accept Assembly speaker's compromise proposal on prosecution reform
(ATTN: ADDS photo, info in paras 6-7; UPDATES lead, 2nd para)
SEOUL, April 22 (Yonhap) -- The rival parties agreed Friday on a compromise proposal on prosecution reform, defusing tensions over the ruling Democratic Party (DP)'s push for legislation that would strip the prosecution of investigative powers.
The floor leaders of the DP and the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) signed a deal to accept the compromise brokered by National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug, and agreed to pass related bills in a plenary session next week.
"The DP held the general meeting and decided to accept the speaker's compromise," Rep. Park Hong-geun, the DP floor leader, said. "It is difficult to see that our thoughts are fully reflected, but we decided to complement insufficient parts in the proposal later."
PPP floor leader Kweon Seong-dong also confirmed the party's plan to accept the compromise.
"The speaker's proposal is actually something that the floor leaders of the two sides have agreed upon in our previous three or four meetings," he said.
Speaker Park thanked lawmakers for ending the standoff.
"There should be no more wasteful argument on prosecution reform," he said. "I sincerely hope the National Assembly can earn trust again by becoming the parliament for the people and their livelihoods."
Despite strong objections from the PPP, the DP has been pushing for the set of amendments to the Prosecutors' Office Act and the Criminal Procedure Act as part of efforts to reform the prosecution that has been accused of abusing its power for political and other purposes.
The DP, which controls a majority in the 300-member National Assembly, targeted to complete all legislative procedures and promulgate the legislation into law at the last Cabinet meeting of the outgoing administration before President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's inauguration next month, as Yoon could veto it as president.
The compromise deal calls for separating the prosecution's powers of investigation and indictment, with the agency temporarily keeping its investigative right, while reducing the number of crime types that the prosecution is allowed to investigate to two -- corruption and economic crimes -- from the current six.
The deal also calls for scrapping the prosecution's investigative power after the capabilities of other investigative authorities improve, and creating a special judiciary reform committee to discuss the establishment of a major crime investigative unit like the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
It also calls for reducing the number of special investigative departments in the prosecution from six to three and limiting the number of prosecutors, and for the related legislation to take effect four months after its promulgation.
The transition team of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol said it respects the compromise between the parties.
The team previously expressed "deep concern" and demanded the DP to halt its plan of passing the legislation on prosecution reform.
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