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Prosecution opens formal probe into spy scandal

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Published : 2014-03-07 20:24
Updated : 2014-03-07 20:24

Prosecutors on Friday launched a full-fledged investigation into allegations that the state intelligence agency helped the prosecution in charging a North Korea defector with espionage by fabricating evidence.

The case of Yoo Woo-seong, a 34-year-old former civil servant for the Seoul municipal government, has raised a political storm in South Korea amid mounting suspicions that the National Intelligence Service obtained the fake evidence, including documents purporting to be Yoo‘s immigration records, and handed them over to the prosecution.

After looking into possible flaws in the evidence gathered for the Yoo case for nearly three weeks, a team of investigators at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said it commenced an official investigation.

“We have judged that now is the right moment as suspicions have expanded too much after a key figure in the case attempted suicide,” Yun Gap-guen, a lead prosecutor on the team, told reporters.

On Thursday, a 61-year-old ethnic Korean with Chinese nationality, only identified by his surname Kim, was found by prosecutors after attempting to kill himself.

Kim claims to have produced “fake documents” for the NIS in exchange for 10 million won ($9,400), according to his suicide note revealed by the prosecutors Friday.

“The NIS has to pay me 6 million won and another 10 million (won) for making the fake document,” the suicide note showed.

Kim, however, did not clarify whether the document was an immigration record allegedly showing that Yoo entered North Korea on May 27, 2006, and left through China on June 10, 2006.

Yoo had claimed that he visited North Korea for his mother‘s funeral but never went back after May 27.

“An investigation about the exact circumstances surrounding the forgery is needed,” Yun said, adding that all those allegedly involved will be questioned.

Yoo, a North Korean of Chinese descent who came to the South in 2004, was indicted last year on charges of handing over the personal information of more than 200 North Korean defectors to Pyongyang after disguising himself as a defector in order to enter South Korea.

After a local district court acquitted Yoo of espionage, prosecutors appealed the verdict with a Seoul appeals court. At the request of the Seoul High Court, the Chinese Embassy in Seoul examined the records and said they were fake.

The NIS, however, claims that the evidence is genuine while prosecutors probing Yoo’s case argue that charges against Yoo will be dropped only when it has been fully proven that the immigration records are fake. (Yonhap)

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