(ATTN: RECASTS headline; UPDATES paras 1-3, 6-8 with latest info; REPLACES photos)
SEOUL, Aug. 16 (Yonhap) -- Prosecutors raided the houses of three former top national security officials Tuesday as part of an investigation into the previous administration's handling of the death of a fisheries official at the hands of North Korea in 2020.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office sent a team of prosecutors and investigators each to the homes of former National Intelligence Service Director Park Jie-won, former National Security Adviser Suh Hoon and former Defense Minister Suh Wook to seize evidence, according to legal sources.
Prosecutors also searched several other places, including military units under the defense ministry and the Korea Coast Guard.
The searches are part of a probe into suspicions that the previous Moon Jae-in administration mishandled the death of the 47-year-old official, Lee Dae-jun, in September 2020, including concluding without concrete evidence that he was killed while attempting to defect to the North.
The case was looked into again since President Yoon Suk-yeol took office in May, and the Coast Guard overturned the earlier conclusion and said it found no concrete evidence backing allegations that the official attempted to defect.
Park is under suspicion of ordering the deletion of internal intelligence reports suggesting the possibility that Lee went adrift and ended up in North Korean waters by accident, while the former national security adviser allegedly instructed officials to frame Lee's death as a "voluntary defection" case.
Former Defense Minister Suh also allegedly instructed officials to delete related classified military information, such as those gleaned through wiretapping.
Prosecutors are expected to summon the officials for questioning after analyzing the seized materials.
Netherlands expects stronger chip partnership with S. Korea: foreign minister
Yoon's overseas trip marked by rare summit with Japan, embarrassing hot mic
Assessment divided over Lone Star-S. Korea ruling
(News Focus) Unattended deaths of poverty-stricken family raises alarm over leaky social welfare system
Ruling party row deepens as winning allies Yoon, ex-PPP chair Lee turn into foes