Rep. Yi accused of telling witness to lie about tablet

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Rep. Yi accused of telling witness to lie about tablet

Rep. Yi Wan-young of the ruling Saenuri Party ordered witnesses to commit perjury at a National Assembly hearing on the abuse of power scandal surrounding the president and her friend, a key witness told the JoongAng Ilbo on Sunday.

“Rep. Yi proposed to K-Sports Foundation Director Jeong Dong-chun to coordinate testimonies that the tablet PC was stolen by JTBC and its owner was Ko Young-tae,” Noh Seung-il, a senior manager of the foundation, told the JoongAng Ilbo. “Jeong delivered the message to Park Heon-yeong, a manager of the K-Sports Foundation.”

The tablet PC that Noh referred to is a key piece of evidence that sparked the shocking scandal over the power President Park Geun-hye gave to her friend Choi Soon-sil.

JTBC obtained the tablet PC used by Choi and then produced a series of reports revealing that she had influenced a wide range of state affairs, from the president’s speeches to diplomatic events. According to these reports, Choi had access to classified presidential documents using the tablet PC.

Choi was also indicted on charges of using her power to coerce conglomerates to make massive donations to two nonprofit foundations including the K-Sports Foundation and misappropriating the money.

Rep. Yi, a two-term lawmaker of Seongju County, North Gyeongsang, is a Park loyalist. He was the Saenuri Party’s chief negotiator for the special investigation committee of the National Assembly, but resigned from the post on Wednesday. “I faced various insults from the supporters of the opposition parties,” he said at the time.

Jeong, the chief director of the K-Sports Foundation, was the owner of a sports massage center that Choi frequently visited since 2010. At the recommendation of Choi, he was named the chief director of the foundation in May.

“Manager Park grumbled over this and told me about it,” Noh said. “He said there was also a proposal that he should give an interview to another media [about the JTBC’s theft].”

Noh is an associate of Choi. He had traveled to Germany in August to arrange Choi and her daughter, Chung Yoo-ra’s settlement in the country.

Noh’s remarks also substantiate an earlier allegation that a Saenuri Party lawmaker and a witness will coordinate their questions and answers ahead of a National Assembly hearing. Ko Young-tae, a former associate of Choi, made the claim about perjury last week in his interview with the Monthly JoongAng, a magazine of the JoongAng Media Group.

Ko, a gold medalist in fencing at the 1998 Asian Games, once headed the Blue K, a shell company suspected to be headed by Choi. The former athlete, who had fallen out with Choi because of her mistreatment of him, gave stunning testimonies at the parliamentary hearings earlier this month to unveil the scandal that led to the impeachment of Park.

In his 11-hour interview with the Monthly JoongAng on Tuesday, Ko said Park Heon-yeong will coordinate his testimony with a Saenuri Party lawmaker and commit perjury at the upcoming hearing. “If this lawmaker asks Park about the tablet PC,” Ko said, “Park will answer that he saw Ko carrying it around, not Choi.”

Ko’s prediction was realized at the Thursday’s National Assembly hearing. Park was called as a witness and Rep. Lee Man-hee of the Saenuri Party and Park made the testimony as Ko had foretold.

“Ko Young-tae carried around the tablet PC,” Park said. Lee asked if he had seen Choi carrying around any other tablet PCs, to which Park replied, “I have never seen Choi using a tablet PC.”

Lee flatly rejected the accusation that he coordinated testimony with Park.

BY YOON HO-JIN, SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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