Judge rejects call for arrest warrant in bribery case

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Judge rejects call for arrest warrant in bribery case

A judge has rejected prosecutors’ request for an arrest warrant for former National Police Agency Commissioner Kang Hee-rak on bribery charges.

Prosecutors have been investigating Kang for allegedly taking 110 million won ($98,672) from former businessman Yu Sang-bong in return for helping him win the rights to run makeshift cafeterias at construction sites across the country.

“There are concerns that the suspect’s right to defend [himself] will be restricted if the suspect is detained at this point.” said Judge Choi Seok-mun, who issued the ruling.

Choi said the prosecution did not “fully explain why the suspect needs to be detained.”

Choi said that because prosecutors have obtained evidence on allegations involving a graft and influence-peddling scandal involving Yu, who was indicted in November, the chances that Kang will destroy evidence and flee are low.

Prosecutors have alleged that Kang received 110 million won from Kang from August to December 2009 in return for business favors. They say Kang later gave 40 million won to Yu and asked him to flee overseas when allegations broke out last year.

Kang appeared before prosecutors on Monday and returned home after undergoing intense questioning that lasted more than 11 hours. Kang denied most of the charges.

Prosecutors said they will consider filing the warrant again.

“It’s hard to accept the court’s decision,” a prosecutor said. “The suspect [Kang] admitted to the prosecution that Yu received 40 million won from him.”

Prosecutors originally planned to seek an arrest warrant for former Korea Coast Guard Commissioner Lee Gil-beom on charges of taking 35 million won and an apartment in Incheon from Yu, but they decided to hold off on any action against Lee after Kang’s warrant was rejected.

By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]
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