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Sitting prosecutor indicted for assaulting suspect during raid

The file photos shows Han Dong-hoon(left) and Jeong Jin-woong. (Yonhap)
The file photos shows Han Dong-hoon(left) and Jeong Jin-woong. (Yonhap)
A sitting prosecutor was indicted Tuesday on charges of assaulting a suspect accused of being involved in an alleged blackmail case during a raid on his office.

The Seoul High Prosecutors Office charged prosecutor Jeong Jin-woong with assaulting another prosecutor, Han Dong-hoon, while exercising a search warrant against Han in July.

Han was accused of colluding with a former reporter at local cable television network Channel A to blackmail a jailed businessman to dig up dirt on a pro-government public intellectual.

The reporter has been arrested and indicted on charges of attempted blackmail.

The indictment of Jeong came three months after Han filed a complaint with the prosecution regarding the scuffle between him and Jeong, saying that he suffered injuries that need three weeks of medical treatment.

The incident occurred in the morning of July 29 when investigators were carrying out a search-and-seizure operation at Han's office in Yongin, south of Seoul, to secure the USIM card of Han's cell phone.

In a statement released right after the incident, Han argued that he was unlocking his phone to call his lawyer, with permission from Jeong, a senior investigator, when Jeong suddenly hurled himself over the table between them to push Han off the sofa where he was sitting. During the ensuing scuffle, Jeong grabbed his arm and shoulder and pressed his face down, Han claimed.

The rare commotion between the two incumbent prosecutors drew attention especially because it was portrayed in the media as a proxy war between Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae and Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl who did not see eye to eye on how the probe should be handled. Han is believed to be a close aide of Yoon, and some critics suspect Yoon might be interfering with the investigation to protect Han.

While Jeong acknowledged his sudden behavior, he said he did so to stop Han from potentially deleting evidence on his phone.

If convicted, Jeong could face up to five years in prison and the suspension of his duty for up to 10 years. In the case of inflicting an injury, the offense could have aggravated punishment of a prison sentence of more than one year.

The prosecutors office said it will closely consult with the Supreme Prosecutors Office, as the top prosecutor has the final authority over disciplinary actions against sitting prosecutors. (Yonhap)