Indie counsel to get warrant for Choi once again

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Indie counsel to get warrant for Choi once again

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Left, Kim Ki-choon, former presidential chief of staff, and Cho Yoon-sun, former minister of culture, sports and tourism, are summoned to the office of the independent counsel in Gangnam, southern Seoul, on Monday to answer questions on their alleged creation and management of a blacklist of cultural figures. [YONHAP]

Independent counsel Park Young-soo will summon presidential confidante Choi Soon-sil with an arrest warrant for acceptance of bribes for mediation after she refused to answer a counsel summons on Monday.

“The counsel summoned Choi to question her on her charge of acceptance of bribes for mediation,” said counsel spokesman Lee Kyu-chul on Monday. “But she refused to show up without giving a good reason. The counsel will seek an arrest warrant for her today or tomorrow.”

Choi was summoned to show up at the counsel’s office in Gangnam, southern Seoul, on Monday at 11 a.m. but she refused to submit to questioning.

This was not the first time she refused a counsel summons. Choi refused the counsel’s questioning six times, and was summoned by force with an arrest warrant last Wednesday.

“Last time, the warrant was to question her on the charges of acceptance of bribes,” Lee said. “The new arrest warrant is on a separate case of acceptance of bribes for mediation.

“Choi is accused of seeking personal profits in an overseas development assistance project in Myanmar,” Lee said.

The Korean government planned to invest some 76 billion won ($64.5 million) to build a commercial town in Myanmar, where Korean companies could do business. The project was to be managed by the Mi-R Foundation, controlled by Choi. The project has been put on hold since August.

“The counsel is planning to summon Yoo Jae-kyung, Korea’s ambassador to Myanmar, on Tuesday to question him as a witness,” Lee said.

Normally, the charge of acceptance of bribes for mediation is applied to public officials. It can, however, be applied to ordinary citizens if they had power over governmental affairs, as Choi is alleged to have had.

In 1997, former President Kim Young-sam’s son Kim Hyun-chul was arrested for acceptance of bribes, though he was not a public official.

In addition to the acceptance of bribes for mediation, Choi is accused of power abuse, interference with the exercise of other’s rights, coercion and acceptance of bribes. She was indicted in November on charges of coercing conglomerates in collusion with the president to make massive donations to nonprofit foundations she controlled. She is currently undergoing a criminal trial under detention.

The counsel also summoned on Monday former Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Cho Yoon-sun and former presidential chief of staff Kim Ki-choon over allegations that they created and managed a blacklist of cultural figures critical of the government.

It also summoned on Monday Kim Kyung-sook, former dean of the College of Science and Industry Convergence at Ewha Womans University, who is accused of giving preferential treatment to Chung Yoo-ra, daughter of Choi, at the university.

Meanwhile, Chung’s detention in Denmark was extended to Feb. 22 on Monday.

Chung was arrested earlier this month in Denmark’s northern city of Aalborg for overstaying her visa and was initially sentenced to detention until Jan. 30.

Chung is alleged to have used her mother’s influence to receive preferential treatment at Ewha and generous funding from the Samsung Group for her equestrian training. She is also accused of collaborating with her mother in a money-laundering scheme through a German paper company, Widec Sports.

BY ESTHER CHUNG, LEE JI-SANG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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