Supporters rally for justice minister amid probe
SEOUL, Sept. 24 (Yonhap) -- A civic group said Tuesday it plans to hold another candlelight vigil over the weekend in support of Justice Minister Cho Kuk and his judicial reform drive amid a widening probe into corruption allegations surrounding the minister's family.
The announcement comes a day after state prosecutors raided Cho's residence in southern Seoul for around 11 hours, securing computer hard drives and documents in the process.
The unprecedented raid involving an incumbent justice minister, who oversees the prosecution, comes as prosecutors are looking into allegations that Cho's wife forged a college award to help the couple's daughter gain admission to medical school. She is also alleged of destroying evidence linked to the suspected forgery.
The candlelight vigil, scheduled for 6 p.m. on Saturday, is the seventh candlelight vigil Cho's supporters have hosted since mid-September. Organizers said they plan to hold the event in front of the Seoul Central Prosecutors Office in a sign of protest against state prosecutors.
Meanwhile, some college professors are collecting signatures in support of Cho, a long-time law professor at Seoul National University. More than 70 academics have taken part in the movement.
Since his nomination as justice minister in early August, Cho has faced dogged opposition from conservative political blocs and public outcry over allegations involving his family.
Despite negative sentiment, President Moon Jae-in appointed Cho to the post on Sept. 9, saying it would set a bad precedent if Cho was not appointed due to unconfirmed suspicions.
The move has grown into a partisan debate, with opposition lawmakers fiercely demanding that Cho step down. Members of opposition parties shaved their heads in public and students at the country's prestigious universities held candlelight protests, both in protest of the appointment.
Cho, a former presidential aide, is seen as the key figure in carrying out President Moon's judicial reform drive.
The justice minister has said he will not intervene with the ongoing probe into his family. However, he told reporters that it is a "difficult time" for himself and his family.
Cho has denied the allegations of forgery as well as suspicions that his wife and two children took part in a dubious private equity fund investment.
Regarding fresh suspicions that similar certificates were issued for the couple's son, the minister said he is "seriously" thinking about taking legal action against what he called a malicious media report.
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