Prosecutors request arrest warrant for DP leader

2023.09.18 12:20:01 | 2023.09.18 13:41:26

[Photo by Yonhap]이미지 확대

[Photo by Yonhap]

South Korean prosecutors sought an arrest warrant for Lee Jae-myung, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, on Monday, on charges of breach of trust and bribery related to a land development scandal and allegations of his involvement in an illegal cash transfer to North Korea.

The fresh warrant comes about seven months after the prosecution sought its first arrest warrant for Lee in February on suspicions of preferential treatment in the Wirye-Daejang-dong district development project and illegal corporate sponsorship of Seongnam FC football club.

Back then, the first arrest warrant was dismissed after the National Assembly voted down a motion to arrest him.

On Monday, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office filed an arrest warrant for Lee, accusing him of committing breach of trust under the Act on the Aggravated Punishment of Specific Economic Crimes, bribery under the Act on the Aggravated Punishment of Specific Crimes, perjury, and violating the Foreign Exchange Transaction Act.

Lee is suspected of providing various favors to a private developer during his tenure as the mayor of Seongnam in Gyeonggi Province from 2014 to 2015, causing approximately 20 billion won ($15.06 million) in damages to Seongnam Development Corporation, which was excluded from the city’s Baekhyeon-dong district apartment project.

Lee is also suspected of requesting Kim Seong-tae, then chairman of Ssangbangwool Group to illegally send $8 million in cash to North Korea between 2019 and 2020, when he was serving as Gyeonggi Province governor, through Lee Hwa-young, his deputy.

Lee Hwa-young and Kim Seong-tae were both arrested and indicted for their alleged involvement in the illegal transfer to North Korea.

A court hearing on Lee’s arrest warrant can be held only after the National Assembly approves his arrest motion in a plenary vote as Lee is a sitting member of the National Assembly with immunity from arrest.

Lee Jae-myung, leader of South Korea’s main opposition Democratic Party, is taken to the hospital on Sep. 18. [Photo by Yonhap]이미지 확대

Lee Jae-myung, leader of South Korea’s main opposition Democratic Party, is taken to the hospital on Sep. 18. [Photo by Yonhap]

Meanwhile, Lee was urgently taken to the hospital on Monday as his health deteriorated on the 19th day of his hunger strike demanding national reform and a government reshuffle. The DP leader had been continuing his indefinite sit-in at the National Assembly until he was reportedly taken to St. Mary’s Hospital in Yeouido, Seoul, at the request of his party members on Monday.

There had been growing calls from within the DP for Lee to halt his strike due to health concerns, but he refused to be taken to a hospital.

“At 3:15 p.m. on Sunday, medical staff diagnosed that Lee should immediately break his fast and be hospitalized. Democratic Party members informed Lee of the urgent hospitalization, but Lee expressed his desire to continue his hunger strike,” a party spokesperson said.

By Maeng Sung-gyu, Lee Sang-gyu, Lee Yoon-sik, Chang Iou-chung, Yoon Yeon-hae, and Minu Kim

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