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(LEAD) Senior prosecutors leading major probes replaced in reshuffle

All Headlines 10:59 January 23, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS lead; ADDS details throughout)

SEOUL, Jan. 23 (Yonhap) -- The justice ministry announced a reshuffle Thursday, replacing senior prosecutors who have led probes into high-profile cases involving former and current presidential officials.

The move affected senior prosecutors who have been investigating suspicions that some Cheong Wa Dae officials intervened in the 2018 provincial elections and attempted to cover up bribery allegations of a former Busan vice mayor.

Also among those affected was a senior prosecutor who was leading an investigation into allegations over academic fraud and financial wrongdoing involving former Justice Minister Cho Kuk's family.

The announcement came two weeks after the first round of a reshuffle involving some of the country's highest-ranking prosecutors.

The Jan. 8 announcement affected 32 senior posts at the prosecution office, relegating Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl's key aides to provincial and less important positions.

Critics had raised concerns the reshuffle may deter ongoing probes into some presidential officials' suspected election meddling and power abuse.

The justice ministry called such views "a misunderstanding," claiming other key prosecutors investigating the cases remain on their teams.

The reshuffle of 759 senior and rank-and-file prosecutors is set to go into effect Feb. 3.

This file photo shows the prosecution's logo at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office in southern Seoul. (Yonhap)

mlee@yna.co.kr
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