Joint Probe into Attack on GNP Chairwoman

Authorities are seeking arrest warrants for the man who slashed the face of opposition leader Park Geun-hye and another man who created a disturbance at the site. The attacker identified as 50-year-old Ji Chung-ho was on probation. Reports show he disappeared from the radar in February, when he left a rehabilitation facility in Incheon. The motive for the assault is unclear but Ji said he was angry for having been put behind bars for crimes he did not commit. Records show he had served 15 years in prison.

Ji and another man identified only as Park are being questioned whether they conspired in the attack on the Grand National Party chairwoman. The second man, a supporter of the ruling Uri Party, was reported to have caused a disturbance at the scene almost simultaneously. The Uri Party said it is revoking his membership. So far the police say the two men seem to have little connection.

The Prosecutor General's Office is spearheading a joint investigation team into the incident made up of more than a dozen prosecutors and some 20 police investigators. On Sunday night, investigators raided the homes of the two men and are checking materials found on their computers for any leads.

On Saturday evening, Park was walking onto a makeshift podium in a densely populated district in northeastern Seoul to give a support speech for Seoul mayoral candidate Oh Se-hoon. She was approached by Ji, who suddenly slashed the side of her face with a box cutter.

Park Geun-hye is the daughter of the late President Park Chung-hee and is tipped as one of the prime candidates for the presidential election next year.

After undergoing an operation, Park is reported to be recovering. Hospital officials say she is recovering well but needs to use a straw to eat rice gruel because the cut caused extensive damage to her jaw muscles. They add she will have to be hospitalized for at least a week and won't be able to talk well for months due to the injury. Several key lawmakers went to see Park after her surgery, but the hospital is not permitting any visitors yet other than Park's family members.

Outside the hospital, supporters of the Grand National Party chairwoman, burned candles throughout Sunday night demanding authorities find out who is behind the attack.

The nationwide election campaign, which was halted immediately after the attack by both the ruling and opposition parties, resumed Monday. However, the GNP decided not to use music or rhythmic movements during its campaign as a gesture of respect.

Arirang News
englishnews@chosun.com / 5¿ù 22, 2006 17:26 KST