The National Assembly issued an order Wednesday for the two former chiefs of the intelligence agency and Seoul police to attend a hearing on their involvement in an alleged election interference and cover-up after they defied parliamentary summons.
The ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic Party agreed to hold the hearing on Friday and issue an order of accompaniment to former National Intelligence Service Director Won Sei-hoon and Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency Commissioner Kim Yong-pan.
The order is issued when witnesses refuse to appear at a parliamentary hearing without due cause. It requires them to accompany National Assembly officials. The parliament can file a criminal complaint against witnesses who refuse to carry out the order, which is punishable by up to five years in prison.
They were originally scheduled to testify at the parliament on Wednesday.
Won, currently in custody for a separate corruption scandal, had put off testifying until Aug. 21 citing health reasons, while Kim postponed his appearance to the same date saying he was preparing for his trial.
Both Won and Kim are on trial for charges of violating the Public Official Election Act.
With Won and Kim absent from Wednesday’s hearing, the Saenuri Party and the DP once again engaged in a blame game.
Won is accused of ordering NIS agents to engage in an online smear campaign to sway public opinion in favor of President Park Geun-hye, while Kim is alleged to have been behind the lukewarm police investigation into the case.
Although the two parties managed to reach an agreement on Kim and Won, Wednesday’s development brought the probe to the brink of derailment yet again.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org