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(LEAD) Arrest warrant sought for prosecutor linked to opposition's political meddling scandal

All News 21:50 October 25, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 6-7, 11-13)

SEOUL, Oct. 25 (Yonhap) -- An arrest warrant has been sought for a sitting prosecutor accused of conspiring with the main opposition party to investigate key ruling camp officials last year when Prosecutor-General Yoon Seok-youl, now a leading opposition presidential contender, was in office.

The Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials (CIO) said it sought the warrant over the weekend for Son Jun-sung, who served at the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office last year, as he has not cooperated with the investigation.

The scandal centers on allegations that Son asked the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) to file a complaint against three pro-government figures just before the general elections in April last year so that the prosecution could launch investigations.

Son Jun-sung, a high-ranking prosecutor, arrives to work at the High Prosecutors Office in the southeastern city of Daegu on Sept. 16, 2021. Son has faced allegations he requested the main opposition People Power Party file complaints against pro-government figures ahead of the parliamentary elections last year when he served as an investigative intelligence policy officer under then Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl, now one of the party's presidential hopefuls. (Yonhap)

Son was accused of asking Kim Woong, a former prosecutor and now a PPP lawmaker, to lodge a defamation accusation against the three, including Rhyu Si-min, a liberal commentator and former chairman of the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation.

The CIO said it has repeatedly asked Son to appear for questioning but he has been uncooperative, offering "unconvincing reasons" for rejecting the summon requests.

The Seoul Central District Court is scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday to review the warrant request.

Last Wednesday, the CIO filed for a court warrant to detain Son for two days, projecting he will not appear for questioning, but the court denied the request, a CIO official said.

Investigators in charge of the case reportedly confirmed Son's involvement after a team analyzed a massive trove of digital data and documents obtained from a whistleblower and the SPO.

The CIO has formally booked Yoon on multiple charges, including abuse of power, in its probe into the scandal.

Yoon has denied involvement in the case.

A lawyer for Son expressed strong regret about the CIO's request for his arrest warrant.

Son notified the agency he would attend the questioning on Nov. 2, but the CIO abruptly sought his arrest warrant even without interrogating him, citing the need to speed up the investigation in consideration of the schedule of the PPP primary, the lawyer said.

Yoon's campaign criticized the CIO move as political maneuvering to undermine support for Yoon ahead of the PPP primary.

odissy@yna.co.kr
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