Vice justice minister throws in towel after continued assault allegations
Vice Minister of Justice Lee Yong-gu offered his resignation on Friday, after less than six months of being in the post, amid continuing suspicions that he had been let off the hook when he allegedly assaulted a taxi driver last year.
The Ministry of Justice said Friday that Lee expressed his intention to step down earlier in the day. Lee took a day off.
In a statement, Lee said he decided to step down because a new person is needed to oversee the reform of the Justice Ministry and prosecution in the final year of the Moon Jae-in presidency.
Lee, appointed the No. 2 figure at the Justice Ministry in December, has been in the hot seat after opposition politicians claimed that Lee assaulted a taxi driver in November and the police apparently let him off the hook.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office started a probe in February into the Seocho Police Precinct to investigate Lee’s alleged assault of a taxi driver and the subsequent police cover-up. Lee was summoned as a suspect last Saturday for questioning.
Lee was questioned by Seoul police Sunday over allegations that he assaulted a taxi driver.
Moon appointed Lee vice minister of justice in December, shortly after Koh Ki-young stepped down in protest of the unprecedented disciplinary process against then-Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl. Moon’s speedy appointment of Lee to the post to continue the disciplinary process was seen as the administration’s determination to get rid of the country’s top prosecutor.
Lee is a former judge who headed the Legal Affairs Bureau of the Justice Ministry from August 2017 until April of this year.
After leaving the government, Lee joined a law firm. Until his appointment, he was a defense attorney for former Energy Minister Baek Woon-gyu, a primary suspect in the prosecution’s investigation into an allegation that he abused power to make a politically expeditious decision to shut down the country’s second-oldest nuclear reactor.
BY SER MYO-JA [firstname.lastname@example.org]