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Court to decide whether to issue arrest warrant for ex-justice minister's brother

A Seoul court will review another prosecution request to issue an arrest warrant for the younger brother of former Justice Minister Cho Kuk on Thursday over alleged wrongdoing involving a private school foundation run by the family.

The Seoul Central District Court began a hearing at 10:30 a.m. to decide whether to issue the arrest warrant for the 52-year-old, who showed up in court in a wheelchair, after an initial request by prosecutors was rejected earlier this month.

State prosecutors asked the Seoul court to issue an warrant to formally detain the younger Cho over numerous charges, including breach of duty, bribery, obstruction of justice, and aiding and abetting destruction of evidence.

Younger brother of former Justice Minister Cho Kuk (Yonhap)
Younger brother of former Justice Minister Cho Kuk (Yonhap)

The former minister's brother, who worked at the Woongdong School foundation, is alleged to have received 210 million won ($180,664) in exchange for leaking test questions and answers to two people who applied to teaching posts at a middle school run by the foundation.

He is also suspected of causing the school foundation financial losses by filing a fraudulent lawsuit against it over construction costs.

A new charge was recently filed over allegations that he sought a fake divorce from his wife to avoid his duty to repay debts worth billions of won.

The prosecution earlier filed an arrest warrant for the younger brother, but the same court rejected it on Oct. 9, saying the charges were disputable.

If the warrant is granted, the younger Cho would be the third member of the former minister's family to be arrested.

Chung Kyung-sim, Cho's wife, was arrested last week on 11 charges, including an alleged forgery of a school award for her daughter and a dubious investment in a private equity fund. A son of Cho's cousin involved in the fund was also arrested in mid-September.

Cho Kuk abruptly resigned in mid-October amid controversy about whether he was suitable for the Cabinet post.

A key architect of President Moon Jae-in's drive to reform the prosecution, Cho was appointed on Sept. 9 despite objections from opposition parties.

After his appointment, protesters staged street rallies for and against his appointment and prosecution reform measures.

Supporters of Cho called for thorough reform of the elite investigative agency and branded the prosecution's probe into his family a politically charged one. (Yonhap)