Cop who wrote report arrested

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Cop who wrote report arrested

Prosecutors Monday night arrested Park Gwan-cheon, a senior police officer who authored the Blue House internal report at the heart of a political scandal, for leaking the document.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office took the emergency measure of arresting Park without a warrant to prevent the worst-case scenario of him becoming the second person to kill himself over the scandal.

Park, 48, was staying at a hospital near Dobong Police Station, his current workplace in northern Seoul, because of the stress of being embroiled in the three week scandal over behind-the-scenes power brokers in the Blue House. Police are set to request a court to issue an arrest warrant for him on charges of violating the law on presidential record management and concealing public documents.

Park removed two boxes containing the confidential document and temporarily placed them at the Intelligence Bureau of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency after he ended his temporary service at the Office of the Presidential Secretary for Civil Service Discipline in the Blue House in February.

His mental condition apparently deteriorated in the wake of the suicide of one of his police colleagues on Saturday, who was suspected of leaking the confidential report to the press.

In a fresh development in the case, Park confessed during questioning by prosecutors on Tuesday that he wrote the part of the report saying that Chung Yoon-hoi, a former top aide to the president, hired someone to trail Park Ji-man, the president’s 56-year-old younger brother and only son of former President Park Chung Hee.

The police officer had earlier only admitted to drafting a part of the report about Chung leading a group of 10 close aides to the president, including three incumbent presidential secretaries. Allegedly, he drafted that section on the order of his boss at the Blue House, Cho Eung-cheon, former presidential secretary for civil service discipline.

The prosecution will summon Cho for further questioning this week.

The scandal appears to be about a struggle for influence over the president between Chung and the president’s brother, who is known to be connected with Cho.

An exclusive report in the Segye Ilbo on Nov. 28 triggered the scandal by quoting the report as saying that Chung, who served President Park Geun-hye as secretary and chief of staff from 1998 till 2004 when she was a lawmaker, discussed state affairs with presidential aides, including the replacement of Kim Ki-choon, the president’s chief of staff.

A March article in the Sisa Journal, a weekly magazine, appeared to have also referred to the report created by Park. It said the president’s brother caught a motorcycle driver who was tailing him and persuaded him to write a statement that Chung paid him to do so. Chung filed a suit against the magazine’s reporters, calling the report groundless.

President Park had earlier dismissed the leaked document as “mere jjirasi.” Jjirasi derives from a Japanese word that refers to unverified gossip circulating among stock traders and the media.

According to tentative conclusion by the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office Monday, two police officers of the Intelligence Bureau photocopied and gave the report to local dailies - the Segye Ilbo and Chosun Ilbo - and government relations employees at some large corporations. Park Gwan-cheon was not one of them.

According to prosecutors, a police officer identified by the surname Han was responsible for the photocopying while another officer named Choi relayed it to the media. Han will soon be charged by prosecutors.

Choi committed suicide on Saturday after leaving a 14-page note.


BY SEO JI-EUN [spring@joongang.co.kr]




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