(LEAD) DP accuses prosecution of 'witch hunt' on eve of leader's questioning
(ATTN: UPDATES with DP leader's comments)
By Kim Na-young
SEOUL, Jan. 27 (Yonhap) -- The floor leader of the main opposition Democratic Party on Friday accused the prosecution of conducting a "witch hunt" without evidence on the eve of party leader Lee Jae-myung's planned appearance for questioning over corruption allegations.
"Chairman Lee is going to the prosecution again tomorrow, and the prosecution is spreading fake news in time (for the questioning)," Rep. Park Hong-geun, the DP's floor leader, said in a party meeting held in the southwestern city of Iksan, referring to a string of news reports about Lee's alleged wrongdoing.
Park said prosecutors are attempting to use the court of public opinion in a witch-hunt type tactic as they failed to put forward clear evidence even after a massive investigation involving unprecedented manpower and time.
Lee plans to show up for questioning at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office on Saturday as part of an investigation into corruption allegations surrounding a property development project in Seongnam, just south of Seoul, launched while Lee was serving as the city's mayor from 2010 to 2018.
It will mark the second time for Lee to undergo questioning since he took over as the DP chair. Previously, Lee appeared for questioning on Jan. 10 as part of a separate corruption probe linked to a football club in Seongnam.
Lee has claimed his innocence in both cases.
"Evidence was needed to punish and send somebody to jail even during the past military regimes ... but now no evidence is needed at all ... The prosecution can just write its own evidence to a crime," Lee said.
"An era of dictatorship and the time of abnormality have come where the constitutional order crumbles, the democracy is destroyed and a few people of power, not the citizens, act as if they own the country," he added.
"Why does the prosecution keep suppressing the opposition party when they have nothing on Lee?" Park Jie-won, an adviser to the DP and a former chief of the National Intelligence Service, said in a radio interview.
The ruling People Power Party (PPP), meanwhile, pressed Lee to step down as party leader if he indeed gets indicted.
"I hope chairman Lee undergoes the investigation quietly and fairly, and receives the judgment of the legal system," PPP floor leader Joo Ho-young said.
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