Prosecutors seek arrest warrant for South Korean opposition leader

Seoul, Feb 16 (EFE).- The South Korean prosecutor’s office requested an arrest warrant Thursday for the leader of the main opposition party Lee Jae-myung, whom it considers a key figure in a corruption scandal while he was mayor of a town on the outskirts of Seoul.

The Prosecutor’s Office requested the arrest warrant from a court in the Central District of Seoul, according to the Yonhap news agency.

Prosecutors believe Lee, leader of the liberal Democratic Party, provided developers with whom he would be associated with insider information about municipal urban development projects during his tenure – between 2010 and 2018 – as mayor of Seongnam (southeast of Seoul.)

This allegedly affected bankruptcy proceedings and resulted in profits of about KRW 800 billion (about $625 million) for the promoters.

They also accuse him of allowing a mechanism to distribute profits from these projects between the city council and private investors to be eliminated. This allowed investors to enrich themselves greatly at the expense of the municipal coffers with some KRW 490 billion won.

Lee has been questioned three times in the last month – most recently on Friday – over this case and another alleged corruption scheme involving Seongnam FC, a professional soccer club owned by the city.

Lee and the party have insisted on their innocence, arguing this is a politically motivated prosecution investigation from the office of the president, the conservative Yoon Suk-yeol, a former state attorney general. He prevailed on the opposition leader in the May 2021 presidential elections by a few hundred thousand votes.

Even if the Prosecutor’s Office obtains the arrest warrant, the opposition leader could not be detained, as parliamentarians’ arrests are subject to approval from the chamber, something highly improbable since the party has a majority. EFE


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