Election violation accusations hit an all-time high

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Election violation accusations hit an all-time high

Prosecutors have launched a large scale investigation of candidates suspected of violating the election law during the April 11 general election campaign, causing concerns that some successful candidates’ elections will be declared invalid.

The number of successful candidates suspected of violating the law is at an all-time high.

The Gwangju District Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday it will summon Park Joo-sun, the successful candidate of Democratic United Party in Dong District in Gwangju as early as next week and indict him for violating the election law.

The prosecution said two of Park’s two aides are suspected of distributing 59 million won ($51,979) to voters in return for their votes.

The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office said a total of 79 successful candidates have been charged with violating the election law and 73 are under investigation.

The prosecution said Saenuri Party lawmaker Lee Cheol-woo, the successful candidate in Gimcheon, North Gyeongsang, will be brought to trial Thursday after being indicted for distributing his autobiography to voters for free.

On Thursday, the Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office raided the office of the support association for Won Hye-young, the successful candidate of the Democratic United Party in Bucheon-Ojeong, Gyeonggi. Officials of the association have been accused by the National Election Commission of serving one million won worth of meals to 50 residents in the constituency in February.

The Busan District Prosecutors’ Office has raided the office of the election camp of lawmaker Lee Jae-Gyoon, the successful Saenuri Party candidate in Yeongdo, Busan. Lee was accused by the NEC of distributing a million won in cash to voters and volunteers.

The Daejeon District Proseuctors’ Office raided the election office of successful Saenuri candidate Kim Geun-tae, who is accused of serving 40 million worth of meals to voters and distributing his autobiography in Buyeo-Cheongyang in South Chungcheong on Thursday. Kwon Seong-dong, the successful candidate of the Saenuri Party in Gangneung, Gangwon is also accused by the NEC of giving 500,000 won to a pastor of a church in the constituency. The prosecution suspects Kwon paid the pastor to persuade his churchgoers to vote for him.

“The number of accused successful candidates is an all-time high in the history of general elections,” a spokesman of the Supreme Prosecutors’ office said. “The investigation of defeated candidates will follow.”

The prosecution said that the election winners will lose their seats in the National Assembly if the allegations are proven. The prosecution said 15 lawmakers lost their jobs for violating the election law after the 18th general election in April 2008.

Defeated candidate Ooh Che-chang of the DUP is accused of distributing 900,000 won worth of department store gift certificates to voters in the Yongin A constituency in Gyeonggi, and two independent defeated candidates are accused of giving away meals by the NEC.

By Lee Dong-hyun, Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]
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