(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Feb. 7)

The Seoul Central District Court on Monday acquitted Samsung Group Chairman Lee Jae-yong of all of 19 charges against him, including his alleged unlawful succession of the largest conglomerate in Korea. Earlier, the court also found former Supreme Court Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae innocent of all 47 charges, including the suspicion on his abuse of the administrative authority to oversee the judiciary branch. Many legal experts pointed out that the prosecution's indictments of the two were excessive from the start. Nevertheless, the top law enforcement agency pressed ahead with their indictments to no avail. The former chief justice was suspected of "trading" key trials for the introduction of a separate court devoted to appeals and managing a black list to give disadvantages to certain judges. The Supreme Court conducted an internal investigation three times but could not find any unlawful deals. And yet, the prosecution pushed for a full investigation of the court by mobilizing over 50 prosecutors for eigh t months after former president Moon Jae-in visited the top court to demand a thorough investigation and former chief justice Kim Myeong-su faithfully complied with it. But Yang and other senior judges indicted by the prosecution were found not guilty. Samsung's case was no different. The prosecution drew the conclusion from the beginning that the merge of Samsung CandT and Cheil Industries were designed to serve Lee's hereditary succession of Samsung Group. Prosecutors raided the corporation on more than 50 occasions to find evidence and summoned more than 110 top and mid-level employees up to 430 times. And yet, the prosecution's request for an arrest warrant for Lee was rejected by the court. Due to the prosecution's methodical investigation, Samsung could not make decisions on major investments for nearly six years. Leading investigators of the two cases were current President Yoon Suk Yeol, chief of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office at the time; People Power Party interim leader Han Dong-h oon, then a senior prosecutor at the prosecutors' office; and Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) Gov. Lee Bok-hyun, a former chief prosecutor with expertise in financial crimes. The prosecution must reflect on itself. It must stop its rush to arrest suspects after a search and seizure. Before the court's ruling on the Samsung chairman, Gov. Lee, who had pressed on indicting him, expressed hope for a clearing of Samsung's judicial risks. But the prosecution must stop its habitual appeals to a higher court. We hope that the prosecution does not help weaken the competitiveness of top companies. Source: Yonhap News Agency