Indictments begin for six legislatorsThe prosecution yesterday indicted three detained lawmakers who allegedly received bribes or accrued illegal political funds after giving up on getting arrest warrants for three other representatives of both the ruling Saenuri Party and New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) who are immune from arrest because of the ongoing session of the National Assembly.
It didn’t hesitate to express its frustration over the situation.
“The lawmakers have broken their obligation of being upright representatives,” said Yoo Sang-beom, a prosecutor of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office. “Their immunity from arrest and privilege of speech, stipulated in constitutional law, is to protect them from intervention from other authorities.
“We also added a sentence regarding their obligation in the arraignment because they should have much stricter ethical standards,” added Yoo.
The three representatives indicted yesterday are the Saenuri Party’s Cho Hyun-yong, 69, Park Sang-eun, 65, and the NPAD’s Kim Jae-yun, 49.
Cho, the former president of the Korea Rail Network Authority, was charged with allegedly pocketing about 160 million won ($157,143) from Sampyo E&C. Park was charged with accruing illegal political funds of 800 million won.
Kim was accused of receiving more than 50 million won from Kim Min-seong, who runs the Seoul Arts College, a vocational school for aspiring entertainers, in return for helping pass legislation.
Prosecutors tried to pursue arrest warrants for three other representatives - Song Kwang-ho from the Saenuri Party, and Shin Geh-ryoon and Shin Hak-yong from the NPAD - but were stymied when the National Assembly on Wednesday voted down a motion to strip Song of his immunity.
The National Assembly went into session on Monday, and lawmakers have immunity from arrest during any session. Prosecutors decided to indict the three representatives after the Chuseok holidays without further questioning them.
Song is accused of pocketing 65 million won in bribes from private railroad companies in 2012 in exchange for favors. Shin Geh-ryoon faces the same charge as Kim Jae-yun, and Shin Hak-yong is suspected of having received money for legislative favors.
BY KIM BONG-MOON[firstname.lastname@example.org]