CIO demands prosecution indict Seoul education chief for alleged abuse of power

CIO demands prosecution indict Seoul education chief for alleged abuse of power

Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education Superintendent Cho Hee-yeon / Yonhap

The state corruption investigative agency asked the prosecution Friday to indict the chief of the Seoul education office on charges of alleged abuse of power in the process of reinstating dismissed teachers.

The Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials (CIO) said Cho Hee-yeon, the superintendent of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, and one of his aides should be charged for illegally influencing the process of reinstating five dismissed teachers, including members of a teachers’ labor union, in 2018.

The office said Cho also violated the State Public Officials Act by exerting undue influence in the hiring process.

The decision came more than four months after the CIO started to look into the allegations as the agency’s first case since it began operation in January.

The CIO can prosecute only judges, prosecutors and high-ranking police officers. Thus, it must ask the prosecution to indict Cho, assuming there is enough corroborated evidence to support the charges against him.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office will make a final decision on whether to indict Cho and the official.

On Monday, the CIO’s review panel was briefed on the investigation results on Cho’s case and recommended indictments against the two.

Expressing frustration at the decision, Cho called the move “unfair” and said he expected the prosecution to “reveal the truth.”

He criticized the anti-corruption body for holding the panel meeting without giving him a chance to refute the prosecution’s claims.

“According to the CIO’s logic, it would be hard to reinstate countless fired workers in our society,” he also said.

Cho said he will ask the prosecution to hold an independent panel meeting to review the legitimacy of the ongoing investigation against him.

The prosecution introduced the outside review system in 2018 to enhance the neutrality and fairness of cases that are of great public interest. (Yonhap)

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