Prosecution goes after DUP lawmaker in bribery case

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Prosecution goes after DUP lawmaker in bribery case

The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office has sought an arrest warrant against a former Democratic Party lawmaker on suspicion of receiving bribes to pardon his fellow lawmaker.

Tensions are mounting within the major opposition Democratic United Party ahead of the April 11 legislative elections, with rising speculation that more DUP lawmakers might have been involved in the bribery allegation.

According to the prosecution, Park Yang-su, 74, a former DP lawmaker, received bribes worth 30 million won ($26,690) in July 2010 from relatives and family members of Jeong Kuk-kyo, a former DP lawmaker who was in jail at the time. Park was allegedly asked to lobby government officials to grant special amnesty to Jeong.

Jeong was sentenced to two years and six months in prison in April 2010, on charges of manipulating his company’s stock prices by releasing a false investment announcement.

The Central Investigative Unit of Supreme Prosecutors’ Office raided Park’s house and office on Friday and confiscated his personal belongings including a computer hard drive. Prosecutors said that they will launch a probe into whether Jeong’s relatives and family also lobbied other lawmakers. They also said that a relative of Jeong told them that the allegation is true.

The Seoul Central District Court will rule tomorrow whether to issue the arrest warrant against Park.

For many opposition lawmakers, Park is known as a close confidant of late President Kim Dae-jung. He is known as a talented organizer for his extensive experience in consolidating local election camps of the opposition party and his wide range of relationships with high-ranking lawmakers and party members.

He is thought to be a key factor in the opposition party’s victory in two presidential elections - former presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun. In reward for his contributions to the opposition party, Roh appointed Park to special advisor for political affairs in 2007 and 2008.

Even after the Roh administration, Park didn’t leave the political sector. He also helped former DP Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu win the 2010 primary as his camp organizer. Park later left Sohn because he didn’t agree to the DP’s merger with the Civil Unity Party, which Sohn pressed forward.

Considering Park’s high-profile and broad connections with opposition lawmakers, prosecutors suspected Park could have lobbied other high-ranking DP lawmakers for Jeong’s pardon, including ruling party lawmakers.

“It’s difficult to get a special pardon by lobbying only one of the ruling and opposition parties,” an official of the prosecution told JoongAng Ilbo. “But we are currently focusing on investigating Park.”

By Kim Hee-jin, Lee Dong-hyun [heejin@joongang.co.kr ]

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