High-speed chase nabs governor on the run

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High-speed chase nabs governor on the run

After a high-speed chase on an expressway in Seoul, Dangjin County Governor Min Jong-kee was arrested Wednesday night and confessed yesterday to having forged a passport to leave the country to dodge a bribery probe against him.

According to the Seosan branch of the Daejeon District Prosecutors’ Office, Min was taken into custody in western Seoul on Wednesday night, four days after his failed attempt to flee to China using a forged passport.

Last week, the Board of Audit and Inspection asked prosecutors to investigate whether the 59-year-old head of the Dangjin County government in South Chungcheong received a house worth 300 million won ($271,665) from a builder in return for multimillion-won construction projects from 2005 to 2008.

Min was also accused of buying a 330 million won apartment for one of his female staffers and ordering her to manage a 1 billion won slush fund.

Min denied the charges initially, but made two failed attempts to flee the country, once with a forged passport. When immigration officials questioned the passport, Min ran from the airport. He then disappeared for days while prosecutors obtained an arrest warrant for him.

The prosecution learned that Min was to meet a friend at a highway rest area in Gyeonggi on Wednesday night, and eight investigators were staked out there. Upon arriving in the area, Min sensed that he was trapped, and had his driver speed away. The police pursued him for about 30 minutes, driving at speeds of up to 200 kilometers per hour (124.3 miles per hour). Around 8:50 p.m., investigators arrested him in western Seoul.

“Min did not resist that much, but his driver ran away from the scene, so we are also looking for him,” said Kwon Sun-cheol of the Seosan prosecutors’ office.

After the arrest, Min was sent to the Seosan Detention Center of Hongsong Prison and the Seosan prosecutors questioned him for two hours. According to the prosecution, Min confessed yesterday that he had forged a passport by placing his photo on the passport of a local builder.

Min was elected governor of Dang-jin County in June 2004 as the candidate of the Uri Party, now the Democratic Party, in a by-election and won re-election in May 2006. In January, he joined the Grand National Party and won the candidacy for the upcoming June election.

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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