Ex-Blue House aide detained over Sewol

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Ex-Blue House aide detained over Sewol

Prosecutors on Friday arrested a former Blue House senior official who lied about briefing then-President Park Geun-hye about the Sewol ferry sinking on April 16, 2014, in the crucial early hours when more passengers could have been saved.

Kim Kyou-hyun, 65, was the Blue House senior secretary for foreign policy and security in the Park administration from October 2015 to May 2017. He is accused of perjuring himself at a National Assembly hearing in July 2014 in which a special committee investigating the sinking asked him about Park’s actions on the day of the accident, which killed 304 people.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said that Kim was detained as soon as he arrived at Incheon International Airport on a flight from the United States at 5 a.m. on Thursday. He is currently being questioned.

Kim had told the special committee that Park “received the first briefing at 10:00 a.m. and gave the first orders at 10:15 a.m.” on the morning of the sinking. The written report he submitted to the committee contained a similar claim.

A later probe requested by the Moon Jae-in government in October 2017 concluded the timeline offered by Kim and other members of the Park administration was a fabrication aimed at covering up Park’s negligence of her duties that day.

Park, who took office in 2013, was ousted in March 2017 for conspiring with her friend Choi Soon-sil to abuse presidential power and receive bribes from conglomerates. She was sentenced to 24 years in prison last April.

Kim’s refusal to comply with repeated requests for an investigation while in the United States - where he was a visiting professor at Stanford University - prompted prosecutors to ask Interpol to place Kim on its Red Notice list of suspects.

BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]
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