|Yoon Seok-youl, right, prosecutor general greets his colleagues as he arrives at the Busan High Prosecutors' Office in Busan, Thursday./ Yonhap|
By Kim Se-jeong
Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl lashed out at Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae's recent proposal to separate prosecutors into two groups ― one in charge of investigations and the other in charge of reviewing the investigation and delivering indictments ― behind closed doors with his colleagues, a local newspaper reported Sunday.
During a meeting with fellow prosecutors from Busan's High and District Prosecutors' offices last Thursday, Yoon made the case for the prosecution's responsibility, according to the Joongang Ilbo.
"An investigation is not just about putting together a report. An investigation also means indicting the accused and getting ready for trial. That's the job of prosecutors. An indictment is a part of the investigation," Yoon was quoted as saying. "If a judge tries a case, they have to reach a verdict. The same goes for prosecutors. It's right to say that prosecutors who investigate the case have the right to indict."
On Feb. 11, Choo unveiled the proposal to divide the prosecution, immediately drawing opposition from many prosecutors. Choo failed to give a heads-up to Yoon and her announcement was a total surprise ― reportedly she only called him after she made the announcement, which enraged the chief prosecutor more.
Choo, with Cheong Wa Dae backing, has argued her goal is to reduce the power of the prosecution. President Moon Jae-in pledged prosecutorial reform during his presidential campaign.
Sunday's report came five days before a scheduled high-profile meeting between Choo and top officials of the prosecution Friday. The ministry said the goal of the meeting was to collect opinions about the proposal from top prosecutors. The ministry also said it invited the prosecutor general but he turned down the invitation.
The Supreme Prosecutors' Office said Yoon would be busy visiting prosecutors in other parts of the country. This week, Yoon is expected to have a session with prosecutors working in Gwangju, followed by Daejeon and Daegu in the following weeks.
Yoon and Choo have not been on good terms since the minister was appointed.
Choo reassigned close colleagues of Yoon to other posts. His colleagues were investigating corruption cases involving Moon's close aides, including former Justice Minister Cho Kuk. Choo's continued reassignment of people in the prosecution office has further weakened Yoon's influence. Some speculated that this is all designed to force Yoon to resign.