Prosecutors discuss follow-up to justice minister’s intervention in probe into alleged collusion case

July 3, 2020

 The Supreme Prosecutors Office is holding internal discussions Friday with senior prosecutors nationwide on how to respond to Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae’s decision to command an investigation into an alleged collusion case, the office said.

The meeting, presided by Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl, started on 10 a.m. and is expected to continue throughout the day.

In a rare move Thursday, Choo exercised her authority to oversee the prosecution’s investigation, ordering Yoon to suspend the convening of an expert advisory panel tasked with reviewing the case that involves a prosecutor believed to be close to Yoon.

She also instructed him to guarantee independence to a probe team in charge of the case at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office.

A car carrying Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl arrives at the Supreme Prosecutors Office in Seoul on July 3, 2020. (Yonhap)
The file photo, taken in the southeastern port city of Busan on Feb. 13, 2020, shows prosecutor Han Dong-hoon (L) and Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl (R). (Yonhap)

A car carrying Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl arrives at the Supreme Prosecutors Office in Seoul on July 3, 2020. (Yonhap)

The suspected “prosecution-press collusion case” has received a lot of public attention for its potentially explosive nature of exposing cozy relations, if true, between a powerful prosecutor and a reporter.

The case centers on a reporter who is suspected of using his alleged close ties with prosecutor Han Dong-hoon, a close associate of Yoon, to pressure a jailed financier to divulge corrupt acts by a pro-government commentator.

Because of the presumably close relations between Han and Yoon, the convening of the advisory panel was suspected, by some, as a deliberate scheme to deter the on-going probe.

In response to the order from the justice minister, the office backed down from its previous plan to convene the advisory team slated for Friday and instead will consult the matter with senior prosecutors.

With his back against the wall following the justice minister’s action and mounting political pressure on him to resign, Yoon may be trying to rally senior prosecutors for support.

The result of the prosecutors’ meeting is unlikely to come out during the day, given the sensitivity of the issue and the logistics of drawing a conclusion from prosecutors around the country.