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Prosecution questions ex-justice minister over illegal exit ban case

All News 15:42 June 23, 2021

SEOUL, June 23 (Yonhap) -- Prosecutors have questioned former Justice Minister Cho Kuk over his alleged involvement in ordering an illegal travel ban on a former vice justice minister in 2019, prosecution sources said Wednesday.

Cho, who was then the senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, is suspected of playing a role in banning the former vice minister, Kim Hak-ui, from leaving the country in March 2019 and later exercising pressure to stop the prosecution from investigating the case.

Former Justice Minister Cho Kuk (Yonhap)

Former Justice Minister Cho Kuk (Yonhap)

Kim, who briefly held the vice ministerial post in 2013, was stopped at Incheon International Airport as prosecutors sought to reinvestigate allegations that he received sexual favors from a local constructor around 2006.

The sources said the Suwon District Prosecutors Office summoned Cho as a reference and questioned him from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

"I can confirm that we called in Cho and conducted an investigation, but I cannot provide further details," a prosecution official said on condition of anonymity.

Cho is cited in the indictments for several people involved in the case, including that of Lee Sung-yoon, chief of the Seoul High Prosecutors Office, who has been charged with exercising undue influence to block the investigation into the exit ban.

Cho is suspected of pulling the strings during the events in 2019 and questioning him is seen as one of the final steps in the probe.

The move also comes shortly before an expected reshuffle of senior prosecutors.


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