Questioning drives a suspect to kill himself

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Questioning drives a suspect to kill himself

The apparent suicide of a researcher after being interrogated about defense corruption is shedding light on prosecutorial investigations that lead to suicides of suspects or witnesses.

A 43-year-old senior researcher, surnamed Kim, who worked at weapons supplier LIG Nex1 was found dead Monday on the ground outside an apartment building in Osan, Gyeonggi. He was living in an apartment on the 23rd floor. The police are investigating how he died.

Kim was questioned by a joint government investigative team on defense ministry corruption led by prosecutors, military prosecutors, the Board of Audit and Inspection and the National Tax Service. Prosecutors suspected his involvement in corruption regarding the development of Hyeongung, a mid-range personal guided missile.

The police said a text message he sent to his wife before allegedly jumping to his death read, “I’m sorry. I never imagined how serious my mistakes were.”

The joint investigative team recently alleged that supply documents for the weapon were fabricated in the development stage. It raided the Agency for Defense Development and LIG Nex1, an aerospace and defense company that led the Hyeonggung development.

After a pre-trial detention warrant for Kim was denied, he was summoned for questioning. He was questioned as a suspect on Aug. 25, 26 and 28, and was supposed to appear before prosecutors for another round of questioning on Monday.

“We feel sorry for the loss,” a member of the joint investigation team said, “and we deliver our condolences to his relatives. His attorney was in attendance throughout the questioning, and there was no problem [in the investigation process].”

According to New Politics Alliance for Democracy Rep. Lee Sang-min, the number of people who committed suicide after being questioned by the prosecution, either as suspects or witnesses, was 79 between 2010 and June this year. Last year, 21 people committed suicide, and 15 died this year up to June.

BY SEO BOK-HYEON, KIM BONG-MOON [kim.bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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