A prosecutor who claimed she was pressured by a judge to indict a netizen that slandered the judge’s wife resigned Friday amid a dispute over the veracity of her claim.
While the prosecution is not commenting on the reason for the resignation, opposition parties have criticized the investigative body and called for a thorough probe into the scandal.
Prosecutor Park Eun-jeong of Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office Bucheon Division announced her decision to resign on the organization’s intranet early on Friday morning.
“I would like to thank my colleagues,” she said.
Park, however, did not clarify whether she was called by Judge Kim Jae-ho, who worked at the Seoul Western District Court at that time, in 2006 and was asked to indict a blogger who posted a slew of articles criticizing Kim’s wife, Na Kyung-won, for having attended a Japanese Self-Defense Forces ceremony in 2004.
Judges are required to be neutral in all cases. If the claim is verified, Kim could be subject to a heavy penalty, legal insiders said. It could also deal a heavy blow to Na, who is now planning to run for the April 12 general election as a ruling Saenuri Party candidate, they said.
Park’s initial claim was made to a small number of prosecution insiders but was made public when “Naneun Ggomsuda,” the nation’s most downloaded political podcast, cheered Park for her “sacrifice” on its Wednesday episode.
Na’s aides have filed a complaint against one of the panelists for making a similar allegation and Park went public to save the panelist, the hosts claimed.
Kyunghyang Shinmun daily also claimed Friday that Park was phoned and asked to do a favor for Kim.
Park has continued to avoid the media. Baek Hye-ryeon, a former colleague of Park, said the media frenzy had left the whistleblower aghast.
On Friday, the largest opposition Democratic United Party urged the prosecution to launch an investigation into the scandal.
“A judge calling up a prosecutor could be regarded as pressure even though Kim may have not directed the indictment verbally. We demand the prosecution to set the record straight about the matter,” the party said in a press release.
Professor Lee Sang-don of Chung-Ang University, who is also a member of the ruling Saenuri Party’s emergency governing party, also criticized Kim.
“If it turns out to be true, the scandal could damage the credibility and righteousness of the judicial body. How could people trust the verdicts such judges make?” he said on a radio show.
Na held a press conference on Thursday evening and denied the allegations. “My husband never asked anyone a favor,” she said. But she refused to answer whether Kim had made a phone call to Park.
Prosecutor Choi Young-woon, who led the indictment of the netizen after Park took maternity leave in early 2006, said he had not received any order from Na. The netizen was slapped with a 7 million won fine by the Supreme Court eight months after the indictment.
Upon being asked if he was requested to indict the blogger by other people, Choi said, “I do not remember.”
The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office on Friday said it rejected Park’s offer to resign.
“She had not done anything wrong and there is no reason for her to step down,” a prosecution insider was quoted by saying to Money Today newspaper.
By Bae Ji-sook firstname.lastname@example.org)
나경원 '기소청탁 논란' 박은정 검사 사표
새누리당 나경원(49) 전 의원 남편인 김재호(49 ㆍ사법연수원 21기) 부장판사가 나 전 의원을 비방한 네티즌을 기소해달라고 수사검 사에게 청탁했다는 의혹과 관련, 청탁 전화를 받은 당사자로 알려진 인천지검 부천 지청 박은정(40ㆍ여ㆍ사법연수원 29기) 검사가 2일 사표를 제출했다.
박 검사는 사직서를 내면서 "검찰을 떠나고자 한다. 그동안 도와준 선후배 동료 검사와 직원들께 감사드린다"는 취지의 글을 검찰 내부통신망에 올렸다.
박 검사는 그러나 기소 청탁이 실제로 있었는지, 이를 검찰 공안수사팀에 말했 는지, 검찰 조사를 받은 적이 있는지 등에 대해서는 일절 밝히지 않았다.
이에 대해 대검찰청은 "박은정 검사가 최근의 사태와 관련해 사표를 제출했으나 현재로서는 박 검사에게 책임을 물을 사유가 없으므로 사직서를 반려할 예정"이라고 밝혔다.
앞서 팟캐스트 라디오 '나는 꼼수다'는 지난달 28일 업로드된 방송에서 "박은정 검사가 공안수사팀에 김 판사로부터 기소 청탁을 받은 사실을 말했다. 박 검사는 검 찰이 나꼼수 패널인 주진우 시사인(IN) 기자의 구속영장을 검토하고 있다는 소식을 듣고 이 같은 사실을 털어놨다"고 전한 바 있다.
나 전 의원이 주 기자를 명예훼손 혐의로 고소한 사건을 수사 중인 서울지방경 찰청은 이번 의혹과 관련, 박 검사에 대한 조사방법과 시기를 검토하고 있다.
나 전 의원은 전날 기자회견에서 "남편은 기소 청탁을 한 적이 없다"고 의혹을 부인했다.
한편, 대검 감찰본부는 "박은정 검사에 대해 감찰조사에 착수한 바 없다"고 밝혔다. (연합뉴스)