Ex-DP head questioned in bribe case

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Ex-DP head questioned in bribe case

Prosecutors in Gwangju yesterday summoned Hahn Hwa-kap, the former head of the Democratic Party, for questioning in connection with allegedly receiving bribes in exchange for election candidacies.

Hahn arrived at the Suncheon branch of the Gwangju District Prosecutors’ Office around 10:30 a.m., going in through the back doors to evade questions from the media throng.

Prior to summoning Hahn, prosecutors had arrested Yang, an acting provincial legislator, and Park, a former provincial lawmaker, and charged them with giving 300 million won ($264,600) each to the party after earning their proportional representation candidacies for the 2006 local elections. The prosecutors suspect Yang and Park made the payments in return for favors provided by the party leadership, including Hahn. Prosecutors said that the two hadn’t paid such large sums of money in the past.

Before summoning Hahn, prosecutors had already investigated other senior DP officials. Choi In-kee, the head of the party’s South Jeolla committee in 2006, and another former party veteran were each summoned twice recently. A third former party member, J, who reviewed candidates’ applications in South Jeolla before the 2006 elections, has also been questioned.

The prosecutors said they expected their interview with Hahn could last into the night.

Hahn is currently serving as the senior advisor for the Democrats. Last week, he met with about a dozen former Democratic Party members to discuss forming a new left-leaning party in the Jeolla provinces, tentatively called Peace Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party was displeased, saying Hahn’s move would further divide opposition politics.

By Yoo Jee-ho [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]
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