Court to decide on Kwak holding

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Court to decide on Kwak holding

Seoul education chief Kwak No-hyun yesterday attended a warrant hearing at the Seoul Central District Court as prosecutors sought pretrial detention of him during their probe into the allegation that he had paid a formal election rival to drop out of last year’s race.

Before heading to the courtroom, Kwak went to his office at the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education yesterday morning and met with reporters.

“I have already told the complete truth about this case,” Kwak told them. “I don’t have any fear now. I appreciate the many citizens who believe in the fact that there is ‘good will’ in the world.

“The truth will set me free,” he added.

As of yesterday afternoon, no decision was made public by the court whether it will issue the warrant or not.

At the hearing, prosecutors and Kwak’s lawyer sparred about whether the 57-year-old liberal superintendent gave 200 million won ($186,000) to Park Myong-gee, a formal candidate in the superintendent race last year, to drop out of the election.

The superintendent maintains he gave the money to Park as a “good will” gift to help him with heavy debts.

Park has allegedly told prosecutors that the money was in exchange for his dropping out of the election.

Calling Kwak “a criminal who committed one of the worst election irregularities,” prosecutors argued that Kwak needs to be in their custody because he could destroy evidence if he is released.

They also claimed Kwak gave Park a high-ranking position in the city’s education office in June in exchange for Park’s withdrawal.

Kwak’s lawyer said there was no evidence of the prosecutors’ allegations, and said they were trying to sway public opinion against the superintendent. The lawyer demanded Kwak not be detained because he has no reason to flee and he didn’t resist being questioned by the prosecutors.


By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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