The Seoul Central District Court began the hearing at 10:30 a.m. to hear from independent counsel Huk Ik-bum and Kim, a former close aide to President Moon Jae-in. The special prosecution filed for the warrant on Wednesday on charges of digital business obstruction.
|South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo takes questions from reporters as he arrives at a local court that will review the special prosecution`s request for his arrest warrant on Aug. 16, 2018. (Yonhap)|
"I will explain everything fully and faithfully at the court as I did (during the probe)," the governor told reporters upon arrival at the court.
Kim, 51, is accused of colluding with Kim Dong-won, the blogger better known by his nickname Druking, to artificially jack up likes on Internet news articles about the then main opposition Democratic Party and then presidential front-runner Moon in November 2016.
Druking, now arrested, argues he got "a nod" from the governor to carry out the scheme to influence public sentiment in favor of the party. He claims he showed him a demonstration of a computer program designed for such tasks.
Special prosecutors have been digging into the case with strong suspicion that Druking and the governor worked together to sway public sentiment in the lead up to the June local elections. But they did not charge Kim on violation of the election law in Wednesday's warrant, apparently due to a lack of evidence.
Gov. Kim has denied the allegations. In the two interrogations he underwent this month, he admitted he had met Druking at his publishing company office but never saw any presentation about a computer program. Kim said he had sent him web addresses of some news articles as references because he knew about Druking's campaign for "healthy Internet comments."
The court is expected to rule on the warrant request late Friday or early Saturday. The decision will likely decide the fate of the special prosecution, as it is nearing its 60-day term given by the parliament to investigate the high-profile scandal. It can renew its term for another 30 days upon presidential approval.
If the court grants the warrant, it will deal a huge blow to the governor, who even won his governorship in June despite the mounting allegations. Kim's known as a close aide to President Moon and is billed as a potential presidential candidate. (Yonhap)