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Lee names top aide Kwon as justice minister

July 15, 2011 - 20:18 By 김소현
Han nominated as prosecutor general

President Lee Myung-bak on Friday named his top aide for civil affairs Kwon Jae-jin as the new justice minister despite objections from some ruling and opposition lawmakers.

Lee also nominated Han Sang-dae, chief of the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office, as the prosecutor general to succeed Kim Joon-kyu who resigned in apparent discomfort over the passage of a bill which prosecutors argued will restrict their investigative rights. 
(From left) Kwon Jae-jin, Han Sang-dae

The National Assembly’s committee on legal and judicial affairs plans to hold confirmation hearings as early as late July.

The ruling Grand National Party held a closed-door general meeting Friday morning, with about 50 lawmakers attending, to collect views on the planned nomination of a senior presidential secretary as justice minister, and concluded not to oppose it.

President Lee told the newly-elected GNP leader Hong Joon-pyo and floor leader Hwang Woo-yea on Wednesday that he will consult with them before making the nominations.

Lee had his top aide for political affairs Kim Hyo-jae inform the GNP leadership about his nomination plan and explain the reasons on Thursday.

The GNP leadership including Hong did not express disapproval over the nomination of Kwon as justice minister during the GNP meeting, sources said.

Members of the pro-Lee majority within the GNP voiced support of the president’s plan while those belonging to minority factions continued to oppose it, insisting that appointing the president’s close associate as justice minister ahead of next year’s general and presidential elections could stir controversy over fairness and political neutrality.

Under the former Roh Moo-hyun administration, the GNP had opposed the nomination of Roh’s top aide for civil affairs Moon Jae-in as justice minister.

The pro-Lee legislators argued that the circumstances were different this time as Kwon had been a state prosecutor for 26 years. Moon was a human rights lawyer.

Kwon has served high-profile positions in the prosecution such as chief of the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office and Seoul High Prosecutors’ Office.

“Kwon is expected to show a rational leadership in reforming the prosecution system to allow the Justice Ministry to recover the people’s trust,” senior presidential secretary for public affairs Kim Du-woo said.

Kwon will be replacing Lee Kwi-nam, who took office as justice minister in September 2009.

By Kim So-hyun (