Prosecutors said Thursday they will forcibly detain five sitting lawmakers, who are suspected of taking bribes, for further questioning.
The move comes as the five -- Reps. Cho Hyun-ryong, Park Sang-eun of the ruling Saenuri Party, and Kim Jae-yun, Shin Hak-yong and Shin Geh-ryeun of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy -- have decided not to appear at court hearings scheduled later in the day.
District courts were scheduled to hold hearings to review the legality of the arrests of the five who are being investigated in separate bribery cases.
The prosecution said it will send a team of investigators to the National Assembly building, where the five are reportedly staying.
"We will try to arrest (the five) this morning," said a prosecutor, requesting anonymity.
The prosecution move comes as legislators are immune from arrests while the National Assembly is in session. Lawmakers are scheduled to convene for a plenary session on Friday.
Cho is under suspicion of taking bribes worth 160 million won (US$156,000) from railway parts supplier Sampyo E&C in return for awarding the private company contracts since August 2008.
Kim, Shin Hak-yong and Shin Geh-ryeun have been under investigation since early August over corruption allegations as well.
Kim and Shin Geh-ryeun are each accused of taking about 50 million won in bribes from a local vocational training school earlier this year in return for helping pass a bill in favor of the school.
The passage of the bill to revise the vocational education law in April helped change the name and upgrade the status of what is now known as Seoul Art College.
Shin Hak-yong, the chairman of the National Assembly's education and culture committee, is accused of proposing a law governing privately run kindergartens after taking some 38 million won from an association of private kindergartens.
Saenuri Party legislator Park Sang-eun is under suspicion of taking more than 600 million won from his former employer, TS Corporation, in violation of the political funding law and covering up his illegal funds. (Yonhap)