Election-law probe nets 1st pol on bribe charge

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Election-law probe nets 1st pol on bribe charge

Jeon Ju-eon, who won his second term as head of the Seo District Office in Gwangju in the June 2 local elections, has been arrested on charges of promising to sell political promotions, prosecutors said Monday.

He is the first candidate from this year’s elections to be arrested on bribery charges.

Jeon’s arrest came quickly after the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office said on Sunday that it had launched an investigation into 176 politicians who won posts in local government, education and district offices, all of whom are suspected of violating election laws. Of the 176, 24 have already been indicted, 16 have been cleared, and the remaining 136 are still under investigation. Prosecutors said they expect to complete their probe this month.

Any of the politicians who are found guilty of election-law violations or fined more than 1 million won ($810) will lose their seats, forcing reelections to fill their offices. In the 2006 elections, 371 winners were indicted for election-law violations, and 88 lost their seats.

Jeon, 61, first won the post of Seo District Office head on the Democratic Party ticket in 2006, but this year lost the DP’s nomination and ran for the same seat as an independent.

He managed to win re-election despite being indicted on April 29 for allegedly recruiting two of his district office aides to sign up people for Democratic Party membership, in violation of the ban on public servants engaging in political activity. He was arrested immediately after a hearing on those charges ended without a ruling on Monday at Gwangju District Court.

Jeon was taken to the Gwangju District Prosecutors’ Office for questioning about charges that he pocketed millions of won from his subordinates in exchange for promises to promote them while he is in office.

Prosecutors said the grounds for the new charges surfaced after Jeon’s indictment in April. During investigation of those charges, they reportedly discovered e-mail messages hinting that Jeon had received millions of won from his subordinates. They also obtained testimony from a senior district official that he delivered 30 million won to Jeon from a promotion seeker.

Prosecutors said they will soon summon the district officials who were suspected of buying promotions.

By Yu Ji-ho, Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]
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