(2nd LD) Arrest warrant issued for ex-military commander over martial law scandal
(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES with more info in 2nd para)
SEOUL, March 31 (Yonhap) -- A Seoul court issued a warrant Friday to arrest Cho Hyun-chun, a former head of the now-defunct Defense Security Command, over the suspected masterminding of a martial law plan while then President Park Geun-hye faced an impeachment trial in 2017.
The Seoul Western District Court granted the arrest warrant for Cho on abuse of authority and political meddling charges after holding a hearing in the morning.
The 64-year-old former military commander was apprehended Wednesday upon his arrival at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, after his flight to the United States in the face of a probe in late 2017.
Cho allegedly instructed a task force he formed in February 2017 to draw up a contingency plan based on an illegal declaration of martial law to crack down on candlelight protesters by force and reported it to then Defense Minister Han Min-koo.
Months of street candlelight vigils by many people led to the impeachment of then President Park at the time.
Cho is also suspected of having his defense security agents stage rallies and run columns and advertisements supporting Park.
The martial law plan commissioned by Cho included mobilizing 200 Army tanks, 550 armored vehicles and more than 6,000 armed forces to form a martial law army.
Prosecutors are reportedly reviewing whether drawing up such a document constitutes conspiracy of a rebellion.
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