Outgoing Prosecutor General
By Park Si-soo
Cheong Wa Dae has accepted Prosecutor General Lim Chae-jin's resignation, the Supreme Prosecutors' Office said Thursday.
Vice Prosecutor General Moon Sung-woo is likely to take over the job until a replacement is installed, it continued, adding Lim will officially leave today.
The presidential office has begun the search for a replacement.
His resignation is expected to bring about a shakeup in key posts at the prosecution, including the head of the Central Investigation Department.
The department, now headed by Lee In-kyu, has been in charge of a months-long investigation of a bribery scandal involving aides and supporters of the late former President Roh Moo-hyun, and President Lee Myung-bak.
With the leadership vacuum, the investigation of the bribery scandal surrounding Park Yeon-cha, former CEO of shoemaker Taekwang, is likely to go astray and remain unfocused.
Among candidates to succeed Lim are, Kwon Jae-jin, head of the Seoul High Public Prosecutors' Office; Moon Sung-woo, vice prosecutor general; and Myung Dong-sung, head of the Legal Research and Training Institute.
Justice Minister Kim Kyun-han told prosecutors that they should not be swayed by Lim's resignation and fulfill their duties without fail. Kim called on the prosecution to check whether there were any faulty practices in investigations and come up with countermeasures.
On Wednesday, the top prosecutor made it clear that he would quit the post, his second attempt to step down following one on May 23, which he withdrew in order to oversee the conclusion of the ongoing investigation.
``As leader of the corruption scandal investigation team, I deeply apologize for causing immeasurable grief to the people,'' said Lim before offering his second resignation. ``Amid various political scandals, we did our best to win public trust through a fair investigation, but have failed to meet expectations.''
People's distrust of the prosecution worsened following a court's refusal to issue an arrest warrant for Chun Shin-il, a tour agency CEO and close friend of President Lee. Chun is a key suspect in the high-profile corruption scandal involving aides of the late Roh and the incumbent President.
A senior prosecutor said, ``Amid growing public criticism of the prosecution following Roh's death, we sought Chun's arrest as one of a few ways to relieve the criticism. But regrettably the court rejected the request.''
``All have turned their backs on us,'' another prosecutor said, sighing.
Since Roh committed suicide in his hometown on May 23, the prosecution and Lim have been under public and media attacks for mounting what has been called a ``politically oriented-investigation'' of the ex head of state.
Roh's supporters and opposition political parties have called the ongoing probe a political vendetta by the governing camp.
Despite the simmering criticism, the chief prosecutor, appointed by Roh in 2007, kept his position in the belief that the prosecution had done what it had to do independently, and with enough evidence to arrest key suspects in the scandal, including Chun.
But the prosecutor's firm belief was shattered as the Seoul Central District Court refused to issue an arrest warrant for Chun, citing a lack of evidence.
``What has been presented to the court lacks sufficient evidence to prove the necessity of taking Chun into custody,'' said Judge Kim Hyung-doo after reviewing prosecution documents.
The refusal immediately sparked allegations that the prosecution investigated the politically sensitive case in a cursory manner, putting additional pressure on Lim.