Kang's Arrest Sought

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Kang's Arrest Sought

Prosecutors Ask Court's Help With Warrant

The Supreme Public Prosecutors Office asked Wednesday that the Seoul District Court issue an arrest warrant for Rep. Kang Sam-jae of the opposition Grand National Party. He is suspected of having received illegal funds from the state intelligence agency, the National Security Planning Agency, on behalf of his party during the 1996 general election.

Mr. Kang has refused to appear at the prosecutors' office.

Because lawmakers normally have immunity from the prosecution while the National Assembly is in session, the court needs the agreement of the legislature to arrest Mr. Kang. A two-thirds vote with the majority of lawmakers present is required for a parliamentary approval.

If Mr. Kang were to be arrested, prosecutors could question him for as long as 48 hours before deciding whether to ask the court to issue a warrant that detains him for investigation. It can also release him.

A prosecution official said that while those who received more than 400 million won ($320,000) will be the first to be summoned, the prosecution will try to limit calling politicians.

In another move, the prosecution is opening cases against politicians with charges that they knowingly received stolen property. If Mr. Kang received the money knowing it was from the intelligence agency, the prosecution says his action can be regarded as acquiring stolen property.

The prosecution referred to a Supreme Court ruling to support its plan. The court said criminal charges can be brought against individuals who received stolen property even when they merely suspected that the property was illegal in some way.

Observers said the prosecution's plan reflects a desire to dispel suspicions its investigation is intended to crack down on the opposition Grand National Party by pressing criminal charges against its members.

However, legal experts doubt the viability of the prosecution's plan since it is highly unlikely prosecutors can prove that the politicians knew the origins of the money they took.

by Shin Dong-jae

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