Police arrest sergeant in connection with murder

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Police arrest sergeant in connection with murder

A 38-year-old police sergeant, identified only by his surname Jang, was arrested Sunday in connection with the murder of a former colleague, a fellow police sergeant surnamed Lee, 48, who was allegedly indebted to him, authorities said.

Jang is also suspected of giving out loans with exorbitantly high interest rates.

According to the police, Jang allegedly ordered another man under his debt, a 32-year-old acquaintance surnamed Bae, who had two prior assault convictions, to murder Lee last month to collect his life insurance. Jang promised Bae that his debt would be waived and he would receive financial compensation.

Bae apparently drugged Lee on Feb. 16, slipping a sleeping pill into his drink before stabbing him to death, authorities said. When he was apprehended just four days later, Bae claimed that Jang had contracted him to kill the 48-year-old police sergeant.

Bae also claimed that he had borrowed money from Jang with an annual interest rate of 120 percent - more than three times the legal interest rate cap at 39 percent - and that Jang even mortgaged his house to fund his illegal loan business.

According to the police, Jang first met Lee in 2008 when he was working at a police station in Chilgok County, North Gyeongsang, while Bae was an acquaintance from around town.

Lee allegedly borrowed money from Jang 14 times for stock investments, which added up to 220 million won ($2,040), but was unable to repay the full amount, instead paying what he owed in small increments over the next two years.

In June 2010, Lee voluntarily retired from the police force, receiving a 100 million won pension, which was used to repay his debt. Lee also took out a 200 million won life insurance policy, appointing Jang as the recipient apparently to show his intention to make good on his loans. Meanwhile, Jang gave Bae a business loan worth 40 million won, 11 million of which was paid off, with the difference and interest still outstanding.

When questioned over Bae’s version of events, Jang initially told authorities that he was just joking about killing Lee, though investigators later found out that Jang proposed to write off the rest of Bae’s debt and include a 20 million to 30 million won reward in exchange for killing Lee.

Prior to his arrest, Jang had a clean record of employment. Since 1999, he was recognized for his outstanding service in the police force 13 times.

In August 2011, Jang was also selected by the commissioner of the Gyeongbuk (North Gyeongsang) Provincial Police Agency as a master police officer - an honor bestowed upon just three of the 5,700 officers in the province - for his accomplishments.

BY KIM YOUN-HO [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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