Parties clash over denied warrant for Gov. Kim

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Parties clash over denied warrant for Gov. Kim

Korea’s rival political parties clashed Saturday over a Seoul court’s decision not to issue an arrest warrant for a provincial governor close to President Moon Jae-in over his alleged involvement in an online opinion-rigging scandal.

The Seoul Central District Court said the charges against Kim Kyoung-soo, governor of South Gyeongsang, are disputable and that he presents little flight risk given his current position.

The ruling Democratic Party said the court’s decision was a natural outcome and accused the special counsel of being politically motivated.

“We deeply respect the judgment,” said party spokeswoman Kim Hyun.

In a sharp contrast, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party said the court’s decision was unconvincing, citing circumstantial evidence that pointed to lies that covered up the opinion-rigging scandal.

Kim is accused of colluding with Kim Dong-won, a political blogger better known by his nickname Druking, to artificially jack up likes on online news articles about the then-main opposition Democratic Party and its presidential front-runner Moon Jae-in in November 2016.

Druking, who has since been arrested, argues he received “a nod” from the governor to carry out the scheme to influence public sentiment in the Democratic Party’s favor. He claims he showed him a demonstration of a computer program designed to manipulate opinion.

Kim has admitted that he met Druking at a publishing company office, but denied the allegations, saying that he never saw any presentation about a computer program.

On Saturday, Kim expressed deep regret to special prosecutors who sought an arrest warrant against him.

The special counsel, which was launched on June 27, was given 60 days to carry out the investigation. It can be extended by another 30 days with Moon’s approval. The initial investigation is set to end on Aug. 25.

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