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(LEAD) Court denies arrest warrant for ex-BIGBANG member Seungri

All News 22:50 January 13, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS details, info in paras 2, 3, 5)

SEOUL, Jan. 13 (Yonhap) -- A Seoul court on Monday again denied an arrest warrant for Seungri, the disgraced former BIGBANG member accused of overseas gambling and procuring prostitutes for investors.

Following a two-and-a-half hour hearing, the Seoul Central District Court dismissed the prosecution's request to detain Seungri, who was at the center of a major sex and drug scandal that roiled the K-pop industry last year.

The court said it didn't deem detention of Seungri to be necessary or justified after looking into his role and involvement in wrongdoings, and also considered his attitude toward the prosecution's investigation.

It is the second time the court has turned down law enforcement authorities' bid to detain the 29-year-old. A similar attempt by police in May fell through, with the court citing "room for dispute" and little concern that Seungri could destroy evidence.

Upon arrival at the court hearing at around 10:30 a.m., Seungri briefly bowed his head to reporters asking him questions but did not comment.

Seungri arrives at an arrest warrant hearing at the Seoul Central District Court on Jan. 13, 2020. (Yonhap)

Seungri is suspected of regularly gambling at hotel casinos in Las Vegas for over three years beginning in December 2013 with Yang Hyun-suk, the founder and former chief of YG Entertainment. The two allegedly breached the foreign exchange transaction act in the process.

The prosecution also suspects Seungri to have arranged sex services for Japanese investors between September 2015 and January 2016 together with his business partner Yoo In-suk, former chief of Yuri Holdings Co.

Also among the seven counts prosecutors brought against Seungri are his alleged distribution of naked photos of women in a Kakao Talk chat room.

Seungri is one of the entertainers who allegedly shared sex videos of about 10 women secretly filmed by now-jailed singer Jung Joon-young in a mobile chat room.

The scandal-ridden K-pop star, whose legal name is Lee Seung-hyun, ceased all entertainment activities in March last year after Burning Sun, a nightclub he was affiliated with, was probed over drugs and sexual abuse.

The nightclub drew an outpouring of suspicions as a hotbed of collusion with police officials, drug trafficking, tax evasion and other illegalities, prompting President Moon Jae-in to order a thorough investigation into the case.

mlee@yna.co.kr
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