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(LEAD) Prosecution probe further corners People's Party over evidence fixing scandal

All News 16:58 July 09, 2017

(ATTN: RECASTS 3rd para to clarify Lee's allegations largely have to do with prior knowledge or negligence; UPDATES with more information, minor changes in para 4-6)

SEOUL, July 9 (Yonhap) -- The liberal opposition People's Party saw its crisis worsen Sunday after the prosecution filed for an arrest warrant for its official and key campaigner of its standard-bearer in the latest presidential election over an evidence fixing scandal.

The prosecutors filed a request for a warrant to arrest Lee Joon-seo, a former member of the party's supreme council and a campaign manager for former party leader and presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo.

The 39-year-old is believed to have known that evidence he had brought against President Moon Jae-in and his son, Joon-yong, had been fake or at least failed to verify the authenticity of such evidence.

Based on the evidence supposedly fabricated by another party member, Lee Yoo-mi, the party and its presidential hopeful Ahn had launched attacks against the then presidential candidate of the Democratic Party.

Lee Yoo-mi has admitted to fabricating such evidence by making her brother pose as a close acquaintance of the junior Moon and give false testimony that he had heard Joon-yong talk about his father helping him land his former employment at a public agency.

She is already in custody, while the prosecution also filed for her brother's arrest Sunday.

The request for the arrest of Lee Joon-seo dealt another severe blow to the party, which, following its own investigation, had concluded no other party member, including Lee, had knowledge of the evidence being fake, apparently acquitting its leadership and all other party members.

The ruling Democratic Party quickly responded with questions over the authenticity and objectivity of the opposition's own investigation.

"The prosecution's request for the arrest of Lee Joon-seo directly contradicts what the People's Party has claimed, and therefore questions over the outcome of its self-initiated investigation cannot but increase," party spokeswoman, Rep. Baek Hye-ryun, said in a released statement.

The People's Party has apologized to the president and his son for raising false allegations based on fabricated evidence but has been boycotting parliamentary proceedings since last week after the chief of the ruling party raised questions over the authenticity of its own investigation into the scandal.

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