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(2nd LD) Opposition parties select two special prosecutor candidates

All Headlines 18:29 June 04, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, additional information in paras 3-5)

SEOUL, June 4 (Yonhap) -- Opposition parties on Monday selected two candidates for the special counsel to lead a probe into allegations that a blogger tied to ruling party officials rigged online comments for political purposes.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) and two other minor parties picked Im Jeong-hyuk and Huh Ik-Bum among four prosecutor-turned-lawyers recommended by the Korean Bar Association in accordance with the special counsel law, officials said.

The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae later said it has been officially informed of the two candidates.

Under the law on the special counsel, President Moon Jae-in has three days to pick one of the two candidates to work as special counsel.

"The president will appoint a special counsel by June 7," a Cheong Wa Dae official told reporters.

"The two candidates were picked after taking into account their investigative capabilities and competence that they had shown when they were prosecutors," Kim Sung-tae, the floor leader of the LKP, told a press briefing.

"The parties reached an agreement on the candidates to start the independent investigation as soon as possible amid public concerns about a sloppy investigation."

The rival parties passed a bill aimed at appointing a special prosecutor last month to look into the scandal involving a former ruling party lawmaker and an official at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

The scandal centered on allegations that the power blogger, known by the nickname Druking, and his team manipulated Internet comments on news stories in a bid to affect public opinions on hot-button political issues.

The blogger claimed that former ruling party lawmaker Kim Kyoung-soo, a key aide to Moon, tacitly agreed to his campaign for the online opinion rigging. Kim has vehemently denied the suspicions.

The governing Democratic Party (DP) said that it is time to await the investigation while ceasing political wrangling on the issue.

"We respect the opposition parties' agreement to field candidates," it said. "(They) should refrain from staging further political offensives as the parliament and political parties have done their parts."

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
(END)

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