Councilman indicted in murder case

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Councilman indicted in murder case

Prosecutors yesterday indicted Seoul Metropolitan Councilman Kim Hyung-sik for arranging the murder of a wealthy 67-year-old businessman and landowner who allegedly paid him kickbacks for political favors and was threatening to expose him.

They also brought murder charges against his 44-year-old alleged accomplice, surnamed Paeng.

In a briefing yesterday, the Seoul Southern District Prosecutors’ Office released the results of its investigation into the alleged murder of the businessman, who was surnamed Song. They charged Kim with making arrangements for his friend Paeng to carry out the killing in the early morning of March 3 in a residential building in Naebalsan-dong, Gangseo District, southwestern Seoul.

Paeng, who has been friends with Kim for a decade, allegedly owed Kim 70 million won ($68,000) and agreed to carry out the murder if his debt was cancelled.

At the time Song was killed, Kim was preparing a re-election bid for the Seoul Metropolitan Council in local elections that were held June 4.

On March 3, Paeng allegedly knocked out Song in the building in Gangseo that the real estate magnate owned. Officials said Paeng then killed Song by hitting him on the head with a blunt object multiple times.

Kim allegedly received 520 million won in kickbacks from Song between October 2010 and December 2011. Song wanted Kim to help with the rezoning of Naebalsan-dong from residential to commercial use.

The kickbacks included tens of millions of won in free alcohol, prosecutors said. The payments were recorded in Song’s personal financial ledger, which had daily records of all expenditures since 1991. The final entry in the ledger was on March 1.

When the rezoning was delayed, Song grew impatient and threatened Kim that he would raise the issue to the public. Kim feared that his political career would come to an end and allegedly started planning the murder in 2012, according to prosecutors.

In fact, the area was not eligible for rezoning, which Kim knew but did not reveal to Song. The City Council completely scrapped the rezoning bill in July 2013.

Kim denied all the charges and has plead innocent. After the alleged murder, Paeng fled to China. When Chinese police caught up with him, he appealed for help from Kim.

Paeng felt betrayed when the councilman advised him to commit suicide numerous times, according to investigators.

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]





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