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Civic group files complaint against Yoon over ex-minister's departure amid investigation

By Yonhap

Published : March 11, 2024 - 21:08

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Kim Han-mae, leader of civic group National Action for Judicial Justice files a complaint against President Yoon Suk Yeol and two Cabinet ministers with the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials on Monday. (Newsis) Kim Han-mae, leader of civic group National Action for Judicial Justice files a complaint against President Yoon Suk Yeol and two Cabinet ministers with the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials on Monday. (Newsis)

A civic group filed a complaint Monday against President Yoon Suk Yeol and two Cabinet ministers in connection with new Ambassador to Australia Lee Jong-sup's exit of the country despite an investigation in which he is a suspect.

The civic group, known as the "National Action for Judicial Justice" in Korean, filed the complaint with the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials, accusing them of abusing power and helping a suspect flee.

Lee, who served as defense minister, left Sunday to take office as ambassador to Australia, two days after an exit ban on him was lifted following questioning into suspicions that he exerted undue influence on an investigation into the death of a young Marine last year.

"President Yoon, in collusion with the foreign minister and the justice minister, had former Minister Lee flee overseas by appointing him as ambassador to Australia," the group said.

Critics, including the main opposition Democratic Party, say it makes no sense to appoint a suspect as ambassador to a foreign country. The presidential office said it did not know of the investigation and the exit ban before naming Lee to be the envoy.

The Justice Ministry on Monday defended its decision to lift the exit ban on Lee, saying there were no grounds to retain it any longer.

The ministry said the exit ban had been renewed several times for Lee since September, yet no summons for questioning has ever taken place. He additionally pledged to actively cooperate with any future investigations during his voluntary questioning at the CIO last week, it said.

"We also took into consideration that he was in a position to depart (for Australia) after receiving (the diplomatic consent) agreement," the ministry said. (Yonhap)