Independent lawmaker jailed for illegal campaigning
Independent lawmaker Park Joo-sun was imprisoned Tuesday after a Gwangju court issued a warrant to arrest him for illegal campaigning.
Following the National Assembly's approval of an arrest motion last week, the Gwangju High Court accepted the prosecutors' request to arrest Park, who received a two-year jail term in June for illicit campaigning for the April general elections.
Under the current law, the courts need parliamentary approval to jail a lawmaker while the National Assembly is in session.
"The witnesses (close to Park) have changed their testimonies throughout the investigations and in the hearings," said Lee Chang-han, a judge at the Gwangju court, adding there is a reasonable concern the lawmaker might destroy evidence if not jailed.
The Gwangju court had reportedly been scheduled to issue the warrant after three or four days of deliberation but granted it after just 35 minutes of review.
The 64-year-old, three-term lawmaker is accused of forming private groups to collect delegates for mobile voting to select candidates for the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) for the April 11 elections.
After failing to receive a party nomination at the DUP's primary, Park left the center-left party and won a seat in this southwestern city as an independent.
Under the current election law, a confirmed jail term or a fine of more than 1 million won ($860) results in the loss of a lawmaker's parliamentary seats.
The prosecutor-turned-legislator has appealed his conviction to a higher court. The conviction, if upheld by the top court, could strip Park of his parliamentary seat. (Yonhap)