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(LEAD) Prosecution raids presidential office in election-meddling probe

All News 13:57 January 10, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 3-5, 8-9)

SEOUL, Jan. 10 (Yonhap) -- State prosecutors on Friday raided a division at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae as part of its ongoing probe into an election-meddling case involving the incumbent Ulsan mayor, a close presidential confidant.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office said it launched a raid on a Cheong Wa Dae unit that covers policies on supporting provincial governments in relation to election-meddling allegations in the industrial city 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

The raid apparently aimed at securing evidence on whether presidential officials conspired to help Ulsan Mayor Song Cheol-ho win an election in June 2018, in which he beat then-mayor Kim Gi-hyeon, who ran as the main opposition Liberty Korea Party candidate.

Friday's raid was carried out through a process in which the prosecution submitted to the presidential office a court-issued search warrant and a list of documents it planned to obtain.

Investigators were reportedly focusing on finding links between the presidential unit and Song's campaign pledge to build a public hospital in Ulsan on suspicions that some officials helped design the mayor's election pledges.

The election-meddling allegations triggered a massive investigation after former mayor Kim claimed that the Ulsan Metropolitan Police Agency deliberately raided his office a few months ahead of the election and that the presidential office was behind the move.

Kim alleged that some presidential officials compiled a document on bribery allegations involving his confidants based on tips from the city's Vice Mayor Song Byung-gi, which led to the raid that negatively affected his election campaign.

The raid marks the second search of Cheong Wa Dae in a month. In December, prosecutors searched the presidential office in connection with another probe into an alleged cover-up of an inspection into an ex-vice mayor who faces bribery charges.

Prosecutors were seeking to secure evidence on why a special inspection into the former Busan vice mayor was abruptly suspended, leading him to avoid punishment for an unknown reason and become the port city's vice mayor in 2018.

This image shows the state prosecution's logo against a background of the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul. (Yonhap)

mlee@yna.co.kr
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