Lawmakers Back Independent Counsel to Probe Crony Scandal

  • By Hwang Dae-jin

    November 18, 2016 10:02

    The National Assembly on Thursday passed a bill mandating an independent investigation into a massive corruption scandal that has engulfed President Park Geun-hye.

    Lawmakers will appoint an independent counsel to investigate the massive influence-peddling scandal centered on Park's close friend Choi Soon-sil. They also decided that a parliamentary committee will probe the scandal.

    The decisions could pave the way to impeachment amid signs that Park is determined to cling to office despite mounting evidence that she enlisted her entire office in facilitating Choi's crimes.

    Lawmakers vote on a bill for an independent investigation of the crony scandal at the National Assembly in Seoul on Thursday.

    The National Assembly approved the bill with 196 out of 300 lawmakers in favor, 10 against, 14 abstaining and the rest absent, suggesting that several lawmakers in Park's own Saenuri Party voted with the opposition.

    The Minjoo and People's parties will recommend two candidates for independent counsel and the president can choose one of them. The counsel will have a staff of 105 including 20 prosecutors.

    Should the team require more time, it can ask the president for a month's extension. Supposing the probe starts in early December, it will continue until early April next year. Opposition parties immediately started looking for candidates to lead the team.

    Lawmakers also mandated a National Assembly committee to probe the scandal with 210 in favor, four against and 11 abstaining. The committee will consist of 18 lawmakers, nine each from the ruling and opposition parties, who will be calling witnesses for up to three months.

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