MB refuses to answer prosecutors’ questions from now on

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MB refuses to answer prosecutors’ questions from now on

Challenging the integrity of the prosecution, former President Lee Myung-bak has decided to boycott further questioning, a lawyer for the detained ex-leader said Monday.

“After a consultation [with his defense team], Lee said he will not attend the prosecution’s questioning,” Kang Hoon, one of Lee’s lawyers, said Monday afternoon. “A little while ago, I informed the prosecution about Lee’s intention.”

On Sunday, the prosecution announced it would send investigators to the Seoul Dongbu Detention Center, southern Seoul, where Lee has been detained since Thursday, to continue their questioning of the former president.

A team of prosecutors and investigators visited the detention center at 2 p.m. Monday and tried to persuade Lee to cooperate for two hours, but in vain.

Lee, who served as president from 2008 to 2013, is facing at least 18 charges of taking bribes from businessmen and politicians, misappropriating secret operations funds from the country’s main spy agency and generating slush funds using a company registered under his family’s name.

Lee was summoned on March 14 for questioning at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office. The prosecution, then, sought a detention warrant, and he was taken into custody last Thursday night.

“Lee accepted the prosecution’s summons last time out of respect for the law as a former president,” Kang said. “He also made clear that he should be held accountable for everything.

“But since he was taken into custody, the prosecution has kept summoning his associates including former Blue House secretaries,” Kang said. “The prosecution is also making public accusations against him indiscriminately. In such circumstances, it is hopeless for Lee to expect a fair investigation and it is meaningless for him to cooperate with additional questioning sessions.”

Meanwhile, Lee issued his first public statement from the detention center on Monday, marking the eighth anniversary of the sinking of the Cheonan warship. The ship sank off the country’s west coast, killing 46 seamen, on March 26, 2010. Lee was the president at the time, and an investigation later revealed that the ship was sunk by a North Korean torpedo.

“I am very regretful that I cannot keep the promise to visit the fallen sailors every year until the day of unification,” Lee said in a message on his Facebook page.

Lee has paid his respects at a memorial for the sailors on every anniversary of the tragedy.

“Although I cannot make a visit myself, I have not forgotten your sacrifice for the country,” Lee wrote in the message. “My aides will pay respects on behalf of me.”

“Lee gave the message when the lawyers and his family visited him at the detention center,” a Lee associate said. “An aide posted it on Facebook.”

BY SER MYO-JA, KIM JUN-YOUNG [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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