Log shows murder victim gave prosecutor money

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Log shows murder victim gave prosecutor money

A murder case involving a Seoul councilman took a new turn yesterday after authorities opened an investigation into allegations that a prosecutor apparently took money from the victim, a businessman. The probe was launched based on accounts written in a personal financial ledger that belonged to the deceased.

The log states that the victim, surnamed Song, reportedly gave a prosecutor at the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office 17.8 million won ($ 17,230), the Seoul Southern District Prosecutors’ Office said, reversing its earlier disclosure that the written amount was around 3 million won. What the money was for remains to be determined.

Kim Hyung-sik, the accused councilman in the case, is currently under investigation for allegedly abetting in Song’s murder in March by contracting his friend to carry out the killing.

The victim, who lived in Seoul’s Gangseo District, was known for his wealth and properties. The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office launched an investigation yesterday into allegations that the prosecutor took money from the victim. It also temporarily removed the prosecutor from his duties.

“We need to look into whether the alleged prosecutor took money and if there were any underhanded dealings between the two,” said Lee Sang-ho, an assistant prosecutor general of the southern district office. “But for now we have confirmed that his name appeared 10 times in the ledger, and the amount of money is also fairly large.”

The financial record reportedly also contains the names of other prominent lawmakers and law enforcement officials, raising the possibility that the murder case could evolve into a larger political scandal. “It’s true that there are other people named in the book, but we need to investigate the issue further,” Lee said.

The revelations surrounding the ledger are reportedly a source of controversy for police and the prosecutors’ office, which were initially at odds over the amount of money that was exchanged between Song and the implicated prosecutor.

The prosecution originally announced that the amount that the prosecutor supposedly received was 3 million won, based on the ledger that it obtained from Song’s family.

The prosecution, however, reversed its stance yesterday, saying that the original manuscript of the book revealed that the total amount was actually 17.8 million won.

It claimed that the initial number was inaccurate and had been distorted due to correction fluid covering some of the notes. Prosecutors are currently questioning Song’s oldest son to verify whether he deliberately deleted specific parts of the financial log.

In the early stages of the probe, the Gangseo Police Precinct obtained two copies of the original book and returned it to Song’s family. When the police transferred the case to the prosecution, it only handed over a two-page summary of the manuscripts.

The two law enforcement agencies often experience tension over the legal parameters when an investigation is carried out. In Korea, the prosecution has the exclusive right to indict a suspect, and the police have complained that their limited authority often hampers them from thoroughly conducting initial investigations.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]
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