Prosecution’s investigation zeroing in on higher-ranking officials
Prosecutor Chae Dong-wook speaks at a press briefing at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office in southern Seoul, Sunday.
/ Korea Times photo
by Cho Young-ho
By Kim Rahn
The prosecution pledged Sunday it will launch a full-scale investigation into the administration’s illegal surveillance of civilians, an indication that interrogations will extend to top-level officials deemed to be responsible for the snowballing scandal.
“We know people distrust the results of the prosecution’s first probe in 2010. We accept it is the people’s wish that we reveal the truth and punish those responsible. We’ll take stern action against those found to have been involved regardless of their rank,” prosecutor Chae Dong-wook said in a briefing. “There will be no sanctuary in this investigation.”
The prosecution sought an arrest warrant for former presidential secretary for employment and labor Lee Young-ho, Sunday, after 16 hours of questioning.
Lee is accused of having directed the ethics bureau of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to monitor citizens critical of the Lee Myung-bak administration between 2008 and 2009 and destroy evidence in 2010 while the first probe into the allegation was being conducted.
The re-investigation comes after former PMO staffer Chang Jin-soo alleged Cheong Wa Dae orchestrated the surveillance scheme and he was ordered to destroy evidence to conceal its involvement.
Another warrant request was made for former Cheong Wa Dae staffer Choi Jong-seok who worked under Lee Young-ho and allegedly ordered Chang to go about destroying the evidence.
This week prosecutors will summon more figures. Among them are former PMO director Jin Kyung-rak who Chang claimed took away a laptop containing crucial evidence about the alleged illegal monitoring.
Prosecutors are also expected to call in the labor minister’s policy advisor Lee Dong-geol, who allegedly delivered 40 million won to Chang from a higher-ranking official in return for remaining mum about the activities.
After investigations of working-level officials, top-level ones will be investigated, including Jang Seok-myeong, discipline secretary at Cheong Wa Dae, and former presidential chief of staff Yim Tae-hee.
Jang allegedly gave 50 million won to Chang and Yim and 40 million won to him as well through Lee Dong-geol, under the name of “consolation money” or to cover expenses for hiring a lawyer.
The two said they offered Chang the money as he was suffering from financial difficulties while being tried for the monitoring after the initial investigation in 2010. But they denied their involvement.
The pair are close aides of President Lee.