Assembly allows arrest of sitting DP lawmaker

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Assembly allows arrest of sitting DP lawmaker

The National Assembly yesterday approved the arrest of Democratic Party Representative Kang Sung-jong over corruption allegations, stripping a lawmaker’s immunity for the first time in 15 years.

Kang has been accused of embezzling 8 billion won ($6.77 million) from a private school from 2001 to 2008, where he is chairman of the board of directors. He was also suspected of using the money to finance political activities.

The ruling Grand National Party called a plenary session yesterday to vote on the motion to allow for the two-term lawmaker’s arrest. The Democrats also joined the voting, in which lawmakers cast secret ballots.

Of the 234 lawmakers, 131 agreed to allow Kang’s arrest, while 95 voted no. Four abstained and four votes were count as invalid.

Under Korean law, a lawmaker is immune from arrest while the National Assembly is in session and he or she can be arrested only when lawmakers approve it.

“I have cooperated with the prosecution’s investigation faithfully over several months and as an incumbent lawmaker, I have never thought about fleeing,” Kang said. “I have never received a single penny of shameful money.

“Please help me to complete my role as a lawmaker.”

Kang was elected in 2004 and reelected in 2008.

While the Democrats have disagreed with Kang’s arrest, proposing he be investigated without physical detention, the GNP argued that the immunity of a lawmaker from an arrest must not be abused.

With the legislature’s approval, the motion to grant Kang’s arrest will be sent to the Justice Ministry. The prosecution will seek a warrant to arrest Kang by submitting a request to the Seoul Central District Court, and a hearing will take place whether Kang should be taken into custody or not.

The warrant hearing is expected to take place early next week.

It was first time since 1995 that the legislature lifted the protective shield of a lawmaker. A motion to allow the arrest of Park Un-tae, who was a lawmaker of the Democratic Party from 1992 to 1995, over a bribery allegation was approved at the time.

If the court issues the warrant, Kang will also become the first lawmaker to be arrested in 15 years during a legislative session.

In the history of the National Assembly, 46 motions have been submitted to grant the arrest of a lawmaker during a session. Kang was the seventh lawmaker whose arrest was permitted.


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

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