Cho’s brother no-show at arrest warrant hearingChung Kyung-sim, wife of embattled Justice Minister Cho Kuk, was summoned by prosecutors for the third time Tuesday to answer questions about a slew of allegations surrounding her and her family, while a local court reviewed a request by the prosecution to detain Cho’s younger brother before his trial.
Chung, 57, arrived at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office in Seocho District, southern Seoul, at 9 a.m. and spent hours taking questions from prosecutors about suspicious investments she and her family made and allegations that she fabricated an award for her daughter to help her get into medical school.
The questioning was still ongoing as of 8 p.m. press time, as was a court’s review of a pretrial detention warrant for Cho’s 53-year-old younger brother.
It was not immediately known precisely how many hours Chung, an English professor at Dongyang University in Yeongju, North Gyeongsang, was actually grilled, but prosecutors were hoping to make some progress on her suspicious investments.
Chung’s first questioning, held last Thursday, went on for about eight hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but sources with knowledge of the process said she answered questions for only about five hours during that period. The rest was said to have been used for lunch, breaks, and time to review and change her statements given to prosecutors.
Chung’s second questioning ran for 15 hours from 9 a.m. to midnight last Saturday, but prosecutors were able to ask her questions for only two and a half hours, for she and her lawyer insisted on using most of the time adjusting the statements she already gave to prosecutors.
Once prosecutors entirely finish their questioning of Chung, they’re expected to decide whether to file for a pretrial detention warrant like they did for Cho’s younger brother, who faces allegations of receiving hundreds of millions of won in bribes in exchange for offering jobs to teachers at a middle school operated by the Cho family.
Cho’s brother was supposed to appear at a court in Seoul on Tuesday morning to attend his warrant hearing and offer self-defense oral testimony, but he chose not to show up, citing physical pain after a recent surgery on his lower spine.
The court was expected to decide whether to detain him late Tuesday night after reviewing documents on his case.
Cho’s brother had asked Seoul prosecutors on Monday to postpone the court hearing, but they refused. On Tuesday, a team from the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office traveled to a Busan hospital, where Cho’s brother was staying, to check his condition, and determined he was stable enough to go to Seoul for the hearing.
Cho’s brother was escorted to Seoul, but apparently changed his mind about attending upon arrival.
BY JEONG JIN-HO, LEE SUNG-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]