Kim Han-gill, Ahn call for a special counsel probe in spy case

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Kim Han-gill, Ahn call for a special counsel probe in spy case

One week after announcing that they would form a united political party, Democratic Party Chairman Kim Han-gill and independent lawmaker Ahn Cheol-soo displayed a united front yesterday against the Park Geun-hye administration and the ruling Saenuri Party in a joint conference at the National Assembly.

One particular issue the two heavyweights used to criticize the government was the National Intelligence Service’s alleged attempt to fake evidence in an espionage case involving Seoul city government official Yu Wu-seong.

“The NIS, which is in charge of protecting national security, is instead undermining the judicial order and principles of democracy,” Kim said during the conference while sitting next to Ahn.

He and Ahn both demanded that President Park state her stance on the unfolding scandal and order a thorough investigation to hold those inside the nation’s top spy agency accountable.

“We urge the president to take action to find out the truth behind the scandal and punish those who orchestrated the scheme,” said the Democratic Party leader.

He added that the new coalition party is not ruling out the option of introducing a special counsel investigation into the case, should the prosecution’s ongoing probe fail to lay bare the truth.

“The government itself should consider appointing a special investigative body to leave no suspicion in the case in order to recover its credibility,” the two lawmakers said in a joint statement.

The move by Kim and Ahn yesterday can perhaps be interpreted as the opposition’s attempt to uphold a cooperative stance in challenging the Saenuri and the government, taking advantage of the case implicating the spy agency.

The NIS is already mired in a controversy over its alleged intervention in the 2012 presidential election in favor of Park, the Saenuri candidate at the time.

However, the ruling Saenuri rebuked the call to introduce a special investigative body for the espionage case, claiming the opposition was trying to politicize the issue of national security.

“The prosecution is currently conducting a thorough investigation into the case. … Calling for a special investigation is just another political move [to take advantage of the case],” Yoon Sang-hyun, the deputy Saenuri floor leader, said during a press briefing yesterday at party headquarters.

The joint conference came two days after Ahn and Kim agreed on a blueprint for the speedy creation of a new coalition party by no later than the end of this month.

The two groups agreed that Ahn would head the preparatory committee tasked with forming the new party, and once it is formed, Kim and Ahn will both serve as co-chairs.

Rather than the DP dispersing - a proposal initially floated by the independent lawmaker’s faction - it will instead merge with the newly formed party.

While Kim and Ahn pounded on the Saenuri, Yoon Yeo-joon, a key member of Ahn’s faction who is also thought of as a political mentor to the entrepreneur turned lawmaker, made a remark Friday expressing his disapproval of Ahn and the Democrats for their decision to form a merger. The comment fueled speculation that Yoon will withdraw from Ahn’s group.

On Friday, the former environment minister called Ahn “a liar” worthy of an Academy Award. He later said the remark was just a joke.

“I do not trust the DP for what it has done [since the merger announcement on March 2],” said the veteran political strategist in an interview with the JoongAng Sunday. “I will decide what to do next after seeing the party creation process and what the new party stands for in terms of political principles.”

The June 4 local elections are less than 90 days away.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]


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