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(LEAD) Police raid Seoul City Hall over mayor's alleged election law violation

All News 17:14 August 31, 2021

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in paras 2, 6-7; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, Aug. 31 (Yonhap) -- Police on Tuesday raided Seoul City Hall, as part of their investigation into allegations that Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon spread false information during his mayoral by-election campaign in April.

Investigators from the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency searched some City Hall offices, including the city planning and transport policy bureaus, for seven hours until 4:30 p.m. to seize documents related to Oh's remarks on a scandal-plagued development project called Pi-City in southern Seoul, according to police officials.

Police officers investigating Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon's alleged election law violation carry boxes of documents seized from Seoul City Hall during a raid on Aug. 31, 2021. (Yonhap)

Oh affiliated with the main opposition People Power Party won a landslide victory against the ruling Democratic Party's candidate in the April 7 mayoral by-election. Oh had previously served as the mayor of Seoul from 2006 to 2011.

In a TV debate held prior to the by-election, Oh said that the Pi-City case had nothing to do with his previous mayoral term. But a group of civic activists filed a complaint with police accusing Oh of lying about his suspected involvement in the project in violation of the election law.

Police suspect Oh was involved in the approval of the Pi-City project, as the relevant city planning and construction deliberations were passed during his previous mayoral term.

Police are also looking into allegations that written reports sent by working-level officials to Oh in July and December of 2007 contained references to the Pi-City project.

Police plan to summon Oh for questioning as soon as they finish analyzing the confiscated documents.

The Pi-City project was approved by the Seoul government in 2009 to build a logistics complex and retail and business facilities on a 99,000-square-meter lot in Yangjae-dong, southern Seoul, but was eventually halted after being tainted by allegations of various irregularities.

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon (Yonhap)

The Seoul metropolitan government issued a statement criticizing the police raid as an "excessive and politically oriented" investigation into a mayor from the opposition party.

"Oh's remarks (on the Pi-City project) merely came from his memories of the past," the statement said. "(Police) could have confirmed the truth without any raid by making inquiries about the relevant facts," it said. "But they have abruptly raided and searched City Hall as if there had been a huge criminal act by the mayor."


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