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Lawmakers’ arrests spark political bickering

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Published : 2014-08-22 20:47
Updated : 2014-08-22 20:47

The New Politics Alliance for Democracy on Friday called on senior prosecutors to apologize for having sought to suppress the main opposition party through their “irregular investigation” into some lawmakers.

Its statement came a day after the Seoul Central District Court turned down the prosecution’s request to issue arrest warrants for two NPAD lawmakers on charges of bribery.

“The prosecution has publicized unconfirmed allegations in an alleged bid to put some opposition lawmakers to shame,” the party said. “The prosecution has critically infringed upon the legislative authority.”

Out of the three main opposition lawmakers who had been suspected of engaging in misconduct, the Seoul Central District Court only issued an arrest warrant for Kim Jae-yun from Jejudo Island’s Seogwipo constituency on charges of taking kickbacks from a vocational college, late Thursday.

The court, however, turned down the prosecution’s proposal to issue arrest warrants for Reps. Shin Geh-ryeun and Shin Hak-yong of the NPAD.

The court cited a lack of credibility in statements by the individual who argued that he had offered kickbacks to both lawmakers. A judge at the Seoul court also said it was hard to acknowledge the necessity of issuing warrants for the two lawmakers in consideration of various statements during the warrant hearing.

Kim Jae-yun has been accused of receiving kickbacks worth 15 million won ($14,500) in return for omitting the term “vocational” from the Korean name of Seoul Arts College.

The prosecution said in a statement that it has yet to decide whether to re-seek custody warrants for the two Shins, who have also been implicated in the art school allegations, according to investigators’ remarks.

On the same day, the courts in Seoul and Incheon issued two more arrest warrants for ruling Saenuri Party Reps. Jo Hyun-yong and Park Sang-eun.

Jo has been charged with taking bribes worth 160 million won from railroad track component maker Sampyo E&C in return for using his position to help the company win contracts for a number of railway projects.

Jo denied the allegations during a meeting with reporters on Aug. 6, when he was summoned to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office.

Park Sang-eun, is under suspicion of receiving illicit funds, either from candidates who attempted to run in the June 4 local elections or from regional CEOs in the construction industry in Incheon.

The prosecution has been striving to determine the source of the 630 million won in cash that was found in Park’s sedan and at his son’s residence.

After Park’s chauffeur voluntarily notified the prosecution of the 30 million won in the car’s trunk on June 12, stating that the source was uncertain, the prosecution extended its investigation. Through raids on June 15, investigators discovered 600 million won at Park’s oldest son’s house.

In other actions to detain irregularity-ridden politicians, the prosecution has also sought a warrant for Rep. Song Kwang-ho of the Saenuri Party for taking bribes worth 55 million won from a railway subcontractor.

By Kim Yon-se (kys@heraldcorp.com)

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