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Ex-intel official for top prosecution body indicted in case related to president-elect

Yoon Suk-yeol, his justice minister pick Han Dong-hoon cleared of suspicion

Yeo Woon-guk, the deputy director of the CIO, speaks at the press briefing Wednesday. (Yonhap)
Yeo Woon-guk, the deputy director of the CIO, speaks at the press briefing Wednesday. (Yonhap)

GWACHEON, Gyeonggi Province -- A senior prosecutor, Son Jun-seong, was indicted Wednesday for using his then-position as an intelligence official at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office to help file criminal complaints against ruling Democratic Party of Korea figures ahead of the April 2020 general election.

At the end of an eight-month investigation, the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials indicted Son on charges of violating laws on the election of public officials and personal information protection, as well as breaching sensitive information.

According to the CIO, Son is believed to have helped file complaints against Democratic Party of Korea Rep. Choe Kang-wook and others with the aim of hurting their chances at the election, and communicated that information to Rep. Kim Woong, who at the time was running in the election as a People Power Party candidate.

The CIO said Kim, a prosecutor-turned-opposition lawmaker, is suspected of relaying the information shared by Son to the party. As the CIO only handles investigations involving high-ranking public officials, Kim’s case is to be handed over to the prosecution.

The CIO found no evidence that President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, who helmed the prosecution service as prosecutor general from July 2019 to March 2021, nor Han Dong-hoon, Yoon’s first pick for justice minister, were involved.

This means the CIO was unable to reveal whether Son’s superiors, including Yoon, played a part in the complaint filing. The CIO also failed to identify exactly who was in charge of drafting the complaints.

The said complaints raised against Choe of the Democratic Party concern the college admissions scandal involving the children of Cho Kuk, who served as justice minister for President Moon Jae-in in 2019. In the first trial the court gave Choe a suspended eight-month jail time for issuing a false law firm internship certificate for Cho’s son while he was an attorney at the Seoul law firm in 2017. Choe is also charged with lying about his role in the high-profile scandal, which cost Cho his post as minister, which during his election campaign.

When the suspicions surrounding Son first emerged in September last year, Choe argued that the indictment facing him was a “result of political maneuvering by the prosecution.”

Son’s indictment is the first in one of several cases connected to Yoon that are under investigation by the CIO.

The CIO was established on Jan. 21, 2021, as part of the Moon administration and the Democratic Party’s prosecution reform drive.

By Kim Arin (arin@herldcorp.com)

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