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Lippert to testify over knife attack

U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert, who was wounded by a radical activist last week, is expected to give testimony on the attack soon, the authorities said Wednesday.

Investigators asked the ambassador to testify on the assault case as part of the ongoing investigation into the motive of his assailant, Kim Ki-jong, the police said. The U.S. Embassy and the authorities are negotiating on how to deliver the testimony, the police added.

If Lippert is not available, investigators may receive the victim’s statement from a representative, they said.

In the meantime, the government decided to provide police protection for all foreign envoys here if it is deemed necessary, regardless of their request, as part of heightened efforts to ensure the safety of foreign officials.
 
Police conduct a security training drill in front of the Embassy of Japan in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
Police conduct a security training drill in front of the Embassy of Japan in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

The police have been closely guarding Lippert and his wife around the clock since the attack. They have also enhanced the security measures on all diplomatic properties across the country. According to police, around eight embassies have requested protection for their envoys since last week’s attack.

Meanwhile, police continued their investigation into Kim Ki-jong’s alleged pro-North Korean links, and reported confirming more evidence to support a related charge.

Of the 30 items confiscated from Kim’s house and office during a raid last week, 19 were found to have contained “enemy-benefiting” contents, the police said. The evidence was examined by experts to determine whether they contain pro-North Korea content.

While the suspect was arrested on three charges ― attempted murder, assault on a foreign diplomat and obstruction of official duties ― after attacking Lippert last week, the authorities have separately been looking into whether he violated the security law.

Reviewing Kim’s phone record, investigators also found that he had called up several pro-North Korean figures, sources said.

The police will grill the suspect over possession of the suspicious items and further investigate whether there were any possible masterminds of the assault, investigators said.

They will also try to find out whether Kim was financially supported by pro-North Korea groups, they added.

The suspect has reportedly denied all charges and claimed that he had obtained the problematic materials at local rallies in Seoul while doing unification-related studies.

Kim is under custody at a police hospital since Tuesday to treat a broken ankle sustained during a tussle with authorities who overpowered him immediately after the attack. He is expected to remain in the hospital for a few more days, medical staff said.

The police will continue the investigation at the hospital, investigators said.

By Lee Hyun-jeong (rene@heraldcorp.com)
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