Assembly to decide on rep’s arrest

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Assembly to decide on rep’s arrest

A request by prosecutors to detain Representative Park Ki-choon, head of the National Assembly’s powerful Land, Infrastructure and Transport Committee, for a bribery investigation was submitted to the National Assembly on Tuesday.

Park, who represents Namyangju B District in Gyeonggi, was investigated by prosecutors last month over suspicions that he took bribes from a land developer. He has admitted to taking the bribes.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office asked a local court last week to issue a detention warrant for Park.

Since Park is a sitting lawmaker, he is immune from arrest while the legislature is in session. The Seoul Central District Court sent a request to the legislature to approve the arrest, and lawmakers have 72 hours to vote on it. If no voting takes place, the motion will automatically be discarded.

Park, a three-term lawmaker of the main opposition party, gave up his affiliation with the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) on Monday and vowed not to seek reelection after he was accused of receiving bribes from a businessman.

Announcing his decision to leave the NPAD in a press release, Park said he felt shame.

“The party is in a difficult situation and I have also become a burden, although I should have helped the party as a three-term lawmaker,” he said. “I am afraid that the people will be further ostracized from the party because of me.”

Park said he is leaving the party because he doesn’t want his fellow lawmakers to face criticism for trying to protect him. He also said he won’t run in next year’s general election because he is now disqualified.

Park, however, challenged the prosecution for seeking a pretrial detention warrant against him.

“Namyangju is my hometown and I have never left it for my entire life except for my military service,” he said. “To where would I be running away? I already admitted to the prosecution that I had received the bribes and submitted the confession.”

According to the prosecution, Park is suspected to have received about 358 million won ($307,772) in cash and luxury watches from a real estate developer from 2011 to February.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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