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(2nd LD) Prosecutors discuss follow-up to justice minister's intervention in probe into alleged collusion case

All News 22:11 July 03, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS lead; UPDATES with more details throughout)

SEOUL, July 3 (Yonhap) -- The Supreme Prosecutors' Office held internal discussions Friday with senior prosecutors nationwide on how to respond to Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae's decision to command an investigation into an alleged collusion case, the office said.

The meeting of some 50 senior prosecutors from across the nation was held at the Supreme Prosecutors' Office in southern Seoul and was chaired by Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl. The meeting began at 10 a.m. and ended at 6:50 p.m.

In a rare move Thursday, Choo exercised her authority to oversee the prosecution's investigation, ordering Yoon to suspend the convening of an expert advisory panel tasked with reviewing the case that involves a prosecutor believed to be close to Yoon.

She also instructed him to guarantee independence to a probe team in charge of the case at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office.

The suspected "prosecution-press collusion case" has received a lot of public attention for its potentially explosive nature of exposing cozy relations, if true, between a powerful prosecutor and a reporter.

The case centers on a reporter who is suspected of using his alleged close ties with prosecutor Han Dong-hoon, a close associate of Yoon, to pressure a jailed financier to divulge corrupt acts by a pro-government commentator.

Because of the presumably close relations between Han and Yoon, the convening of the advisory panel was suspected, by some, as a deliberate scheme to deter the ongoing probe.

In response to the order from the justice minister, the office backed down from its previous plan to convene the advisory team slated for Friday and instead opted to consult the matter with senior prosecutors.

During the closed-door meeting, several participants were reported to have expressed objection to Choo's actions. Throughout the meeting, Yoon was for the most part quiet, focusing on hearing what the senior prosecutors had to say, according to several participants.

With his back against the wall following the justice minister's action and mounting political pressure asking for his resignation, Yoon may be trying to rally senior prosecutors for support.

The prosecutors' office is planning to write up a review report of Friday's meeting by Monday. Yoon is expected to formulate some type of official statement or response after reviewing the report.

The file photo, taken in the southeastern port city of Busan on Feb. 13, 2020, shows prosecutor Han Dong-hoon (L) and Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl (R). (Yonhap)

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr
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