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Suspect in Daejang-dong scandal dies, parties urge special probe

A photo shows the Supreme Prosecutors Office in Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap)
A photo shows the Supreme Prosecutors Office in Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap)
The head of a municipal development company, who was facing prosecutorial questioning for allegedly taking bribes in a massive land development corruption scandal, was found dead in an apparent suicide, police said on Friday.

Police discovered the body of Yoo Han-gi, head of the Pocheon Urban Corp., who was reported missing by his family early Friday near his home in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province. Yoo reportedly left home after leaving behind a will.

Earlier this week, prosecutors requested an arrest warrant for Yoo, for allegedly taking a bribe of 200 million won ($167,000) to take favors from key partners in a lucrative apartment development project in the Daejang-dong district in the city of Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province.

He was a senior manager at Seongnam Development Corp. at the time the land development project was launched in 2015.

Following the death of Yoo, political parties from both sides of the aisle delivered condolences, and called for a special probe into the corruption scandal with an independent counsel on Friday.

Having accused Lee Jae-myung, the presidential candidate of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, of being the mastermind of the Daejang-dong scandal, the main opposition People Power Party urged for a special probe and denounced the ruling party for “rejecting” the probe. Lee Jae-myung was the mayor of Seongnam at the time.

“This is what happens when the No. 1 mastermind is left alone, and others around him are investigated,” PPP Chairman Lee Jun-seok said on his Facebook.

Lee Jae-myung, who denies of his connection in the corruption case, also demanded for a special counsel probe on Friday.

“I send my condolences to Yoo. I feel a great sadness in the choice he has made,” Lee Jae-myung said in a statement. “To find out a substantial truth, a special probe should be conducted immediately.”

Regarding the presidential candidate’s stated openness to conducting a special probe, the opposition party’s floor leader Rep. Kim Gi-hyeon called it false.

“The People Power Party has repeatedly called for a special probe (into the land development case), and we requested holding parliamentary committee to discuss it, even yesterday. But the DP rejected it,” Rep. Kim said.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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