The death of former President Roh Moo-hyun will be entirely reinvestigated, as the sole security guard who accompanied him on his last hike was found to have lied about the details surrounding his death, police said Wednesday.
According to Yonhap News, a regional police chief in charge of the probe told reporters it has been confirmed that Roh jumped to his death from a mountainside cliff near his rural home on Saturday morning in the absence of the security guard.
The body guard, identified only by his family name Lee, had initially claimed that he personally witnessed Roh plunging from the 30-meter-high "Owl Rock," just behind the late Roh`s residence in Bongha Village, Gimhae, about 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul.
As contradictory evidence and eyewitness accounts emerged, however, the security guard changed his statement, saying he was not with the former president at the moment he leapt from the rock.
"It is believed that former President Roh fell from Owl Rock after sending his security guard on an errand to a nearby temple," Lee Woon-wu, commissioner of the Gyeongnam Provincial Police Agency, said.
According to the police commissioner, Roh arrived at Owl Rock at 6:14 a.m. with security guard Lee and asked him for a cigarette. Three minutes later, Roh instructed his guard to go to Jongtowon Temple, a small Buddhist temple about 200 meters further up the mountain, to see if the head monk was present, the commissioner said.
A mortuary tablet in honor of the former president`s deceased parents is enshrined at the temple.
"Roh may have plunged from Owl Rock while alone. The security guard belatedly looked for the missing former president and spotted him at 6:45 a.m. The guard then carried Roh on his back to a car at the residence before rushing him to a nearby hospital," said the commissioner.
Investigators at the Gyeongnam police agency said they have been confused by the security guard`s conflicting accounts about the circumstances leading to Roh`s apparent suicide.
At one point, the security guard had said he was turning away an approaching citizen at the moment the former president fell from the cliff, investigators said, speculating that the guard may have lied for fear of being punished for dereliction of duty.