South Korea's chief prosecutor Moon Moo-il has reiterated on Thursday that he opposes the latest investigative power reform bills, claiming they don’t match with democratic principles and could encroach on basic rights.
"The bills designated as fast-track bills at the National Assembly do not coincide with the democratic principles within the criminal justice system, and they may leave a loophole in the protection of basic rights."
The reform bills that were put on fast-track at the National Assembly last month would give police the authority to close investigations and remove the prosecution's authority to control police investigations.
Under the current law, prosecutors have the authority to close investigations, indict suspects and to seek arrest warrants.
Prosecutors have been expressing discontent over the reform bills, claiming their voices were not heard when lawmakers were planning to redistribute investigative power between police and the prosecution.
At Thursday's press conference, Moon said the prosecution is reflecting on criticisms that it failed to maintain neutrality in some politically sensitive cases.
The chief prosecutor vowed to make systematic changes to the ways the prosecution handles investigations to build public trust.
He said the prosecution will scale down and decentralize its monopolistic investigative power, adding that it's currently working on splitting powers regarding criminal investigations into certain matters, such as narcotics and tax evasion.
Also, he said it will expand measures to request for re-probes into closed cases.
The power-struggle between the two investigative agencies is escalating.
On Wednesday, prosecutors detained a former police chief for allegedly intervening in elections during the previous Park Geun-hye administration.
Police also have launched an investigation over current and former high-level prosecutors, including the former prosecutor chief for an alleged dereliction of duty.
On the same day, police criticized Moon Moo-il's claims, arguing the reform bill is one of the key agenda of the current government.
Earlier this week, Police Chief Min Gap-ryong also publicly announced he supports the reform bills, saying the public is calling for a redistribution of power to root out irregularities.
Yoon Jung-min, Arirang News.