December 23, 2016 10:05
Former presidential secretary Woo Byung-woo on Thursday came out of hiding to deny any involvement in the massive influence-peddling and corruption scandal that has brought down President Park Geun-hye.
Woo, a former prosecutor whose role it would have been to audit Cheong Wa Dae staff, is accused of leading the cover-up.
He was mobbed by reporters when he appeared at the National Assembly at around 9:15 a.m. before testifying to the committee probing the scandal.
Woo told lawmakers he believes the allegations against the president to be groundless and has never met her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, who allegedly roped the entire presidential office into a massive extortion racket.
When confronted with lengthy questions, he repeatedly claimed not to understand them.
Woo has a checkered history himself, having previously been investigated for irregularities and concealing assets. Questioned by prosecutors last month he was given a suspiciously easy ride, chatting amiably with his former colleagues-turned-interrogators and drinking tea with the chief prosecutor.
But on Thursday he denied being treated with kid gloves on the occasion and claimed he only dodged an earlier summons to appear before the committee because he wanted to avoid the press.
Asked if he had respect for Park, Woo said yes, explaining that he believed her when she told him she acted for the benefit of the nation.
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