Prosecution raids office of Hwang Un-ha for suspected election law violations

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Prosecution raids office of Hwang Un-ha for suspected election law violations

The prosecution on Friday raided the office of Hwang Un-ha, a senior police official elected as a ruling party lawmaker last week, for suspected violation of the election law.

Daejeon District Prosecutors’ Office sent a team of investigators and prosecutors to Hwang’s office in the morning and conducted the raid. The prosecutors are looking for evidence that Hwang illegally used a list of members of the Democratic Party (DP) to contact the primary voters and persuade them to vote for him in an internal primary.

Hwang, a senior superintendent general currently heading the Police Human Resources Development Institute, was one of three politicians who ran in the internal primary to win the DP’s nomination for Jung District of Daejeon. He won the primary and then went on to win the April 15 legislative election, defeating Rep. Lee Eun-kwon of the opposition United Future Party (UFP).

“We exercised a search and seizure warrant at the former campaign office of the lawmaker-elect Hwang on a charge of violating the Public Official Election Act,” said a prosecution official. “We cannot elaborate on the specific charges, identity of the suspect and other details of our investigation.”
“I was informed that a primary opponent had filed a criminal complaint against a member of my campaign,” Hwang told the JoongAng Ilbo. “I think the raid is linked to the complaint.”

Suspicions were previously raised that Hwang’s campaign exploited a leaked list of DP members and their personal information to win the primary.
In a separate trail, Hwang is facing allegations that Blue House aides helped Song Cheol-ho, a close friend of President Moon Jae-in, to win the election in June 2018 by triggering a police investigation into his rival, then Ulsan Mayor Kim Gi-hyeon, for possible corruption just three months before the race in order to sway public opinion. On Jan. 29, 13 people including Song and Hwang, who was the chief of Ulsan police at the time, were indicted on charges of election law violations.

He is also facing criticism for running in the general elections while keeping his police title. The opposition UFP said it is in violation of the State Public Officials Act for Hwang to run in the general elections as an incumbent member of the police. The party said it will file a criminal complaint to the prosecution to investigate him.

Hwang tendered his resignation to the police on Jan. 15, but Police Commissioner General Min Gap-ryong did not accept it because a public servant is barred from leaving office during a criminal investigation. While his resignation was still pending, Hwang went ahead and ran — and won the election.

BY SHIN JIN-HO, SER MYO-JA [ser.myojaa@joongang.co.kr]

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