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Main opposition agrees to discuss independent counsel at judiciary committee

All News 12:05 October 07, 2016

SEOUL, Oct. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea on Friday agreed to discuss the formation of an independent counsel to investigate the death of a protester at the judiciary committee, in a move to open talks with the ruling party.

The country's three opposition parties handed in a proposal on Wednesday to seek the formation of an independent prosecution to check into the death of Baek Nam-gi, who had been in a coma ever since a water cannon knocked him down during a massive anti-government demonstration in November last year.

The ruling and opposition blocs have been at odds on the process to establish the counsel, with the Saenuri Party claiming the issue must be discussed by the parliament's Legislation and Judiciary Committee, which is currently headed by a Saenuri lawmaker.

The opposition parties had initially claimed that they can bypass the committee and put the motion to a vote at the plenary session.

The National Assembly Secretariat, however, announced an authoritative interpretation of the law, saying the proposal must be discussed at the committee first, inducing the Minjoo to take a flexible gesture.

Political pundits said the opposition bloc will face hurdles in pushing ahead the proposal as the committee is led by the ruling party.

"The independent counsel can call for the agreement among ruling and opposition parties. Either way, we do not want to make an example of an independent counsel without any agreements," Rep. Woo Sang-ho, the floor leader of the Minjoo said.

The investigation proposed by the opposition parties is set to focus on whether the water cannon used against the protester violated any laws, and find those responsible for the alleged excessive force.

Other opposition parties, however, have not yet agreed to discuss the issue at the judiciary committee.

colin@yna.co.kr
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