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Police seek revision of law for independence

Dec. 18, 2011 - 20:45 By Korea Herald
The chief of the state police agency on Friday vowed to seek the revision of the Criminal Procedure Code to guarantee police independence and authority in investigations.

He also disowned earlier remarks that he would resign should the prosecution and the administration refuse to reflect the police’s request in the upcoming presidential decree on criminal investigation.

According to the National Police Agency, its Commissioner-General Cho Hyun-oh sent an e-mail to all police officers last Friday declaring that the organization will target the revision of the Criminal Procedure Code to nullify a soon-to-be-released presidential decree putting police officers under tighter supervision of the prosecutors.

“I will strive to penetrate the ideas until the last minute of the decree announcement. But I will put more focus on the law revision,” he wrote.

Cho’s announcement came a day before the second round of negotiations among the deputy heads of the Prime Minister’s Office, the prosecution and the police broke down.

“The marathon talk ended without conclusion but only confirmed our differences,” a police official said Sunday. “The police will not accept the ordinance that could impair our investigation initiatives.”

The PMO has written out a draft of the decree last month that reduces the scope of investigations by police.

Under the plan, police officers will be deprived of rights to initiate any investigations without instructions from prosecutors. The only autonomy left for them will be in intelligence gathering. Prosecutors, on the other hand, were given strengthened rights as they will be able to reopen cases concluded by the police in any given circumstances.

The rule, expected to pass the Cabinet meeting this week in order to come into force from the New Year’s Day, drew fierce resistance from 100,000 police staff nationwide. They claimed the draft to be a serious threat against the organization’s independence and power.

In protest against the decree, Seongbuk Police Stations chief and superintendent Park Dong-ju offered to resign last week while Park Jong-joon, vice commissioner-general of NPA, threatened to resign if the decree passes the Cabinet without additional revision.

According to media reports, Cho is determined to lead the law revision.

“Cho’s resignation would bring chaos to police since this is a very sensitive matter. People advised him to stay,” a police insider was quoted as saying to a local daily.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldm)