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Special counsel won't seek extension of term for opinion-rigging probe

All Headlines 14:48 August 22, 2018

SEOUL, Aug. 22 (Yonhap) -- Special prosecutors probing a high-profile political scandal involving an influential blogger and a prominent governor said Wednesday it will not seek to extend their designated term and plans to wrap up the investigation this Saturday.

The team of 87 investigators, led by special counsel Huh Ik-bum, was launched on June 27 after the National Assembly passed a bill on the independent probe into an alleged massive rigging of online news comments.

South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo, then a ruling Democratic Party lawmaker, allegedly conspired with an influential power blogger, known by his nickname Druking, into manipulating comments in online news articles to benefit the DP, between October 2016 and early this year.

Under the law regarding a special prosecution, the special counsel is given an initial two-month term to dig into the case and can seek an additional 30-day term if deemed necessary.

In Wednesday's press briefing, the special prosecution said it will deliver its official result of the opinion rigging probe next Monday.

Huh has faced criticism that his team is not doing enough to crack the case. Critics have questioned the independence of the special prosecution, saying the fact that the probe is targeting Gov. Kim, a potential presidential candidate who is known for his close ties to President Moon Jae-in.

Huh sought an arrest warrant for Kim earlier this month. The court turned it down citing a lack of reasons for it.

The suicide of Rep. Roh Hoe-chan, a veteran politician from a minor progressive party, over his alleged connection to Druking, is also seen as another factor that has affected the probe.

Opposition parties have called on Moon to approve the extension. The ruling party has raised questions over the need.

South Korea has launched 12 special prosecutions so far. Six of them requested an extension and three of them won their extra terms.

Special counsel Huh Ik-bum speaks during a press briefing over the Druking case on July 20, 2018. (Yonhap)


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