Lee delays a decision on retirement home probe

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Lee delays a decision on retirement home probe

President Lee Myung-bak yesterday deferred a decision on whether to accept a National Assembly plan to appoint an independent counsel to investigate a plan to build his retirement home, which was canceled after it caused a public uproar.

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The bill was one of the items discussed at a cabinet meeting at the Blue House yesterday, said Park Jeong-ha, a presidential spokesman.

The Ministry of Justice presented a request to the president to veto the proposed probe, citing concerns about political neutrality and fairness, but Lee deferred a decision, Park said.

According to the current plan, the main opposition Democratic United Party will recommend two special prosecutor candidates for Lee to choose from.

“We are still collecting opinions from the experts,” Lee was quoted as saying by Park. “It is desirable to take more time to be more prudent about it. Since we have a couple more days before the legal deadline, we should think more deeply.”

Lee has until Friday to either accept or veto the probe.

On Sept. 3, the National Assembly approved a bill to appoint an independent counsel to look into accusations that large pieces of land were illegally purchased to build a private residence for Lee in Naegok-dong, southern Seoul.

Although the plan was scrapped after it produced controversy, prosecutors still looked into the case earlier this year.

Lee, his son and some former Blue House aides were cleared in June, but the DUP demanded an independent counsel probe.

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

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