October 13, 2017 12:54
Newly discovered Cheong Wa Dae logs suggest that ex-president Park Geun-hye tried to cover her tracks in the notorious "missing seven hours," when she was nowhere to be found during the April 2014 ferry disaster, the presidential office said Thursday.
Im Jong-seok, the presidential chief of staff, showed reporters documents including a daily log dated April 16, 2014, when the ferry sank off the southwest coast killing more than 300 people.
The log gives the time of Park's first briefing about the sinking as 9:30 a.m. But in her impeachment trial Park submitted a statement saying she was notified at 10 a.m. and issued her first order 15 minutes later.
The briefing supposedly took place through closed doors while Park was secreted in the inner sanctum of her operetta court at Cheong Wa Dae.
"The reason they pushed back the time of the first report to the president by half an hour appears to have been an attempt to reduce the time between the first report and Park's first order," Im said. He added the log was evidently altered six months after the ferry accident.
Im said the documents also indicate that Cheong Wa Dae also abruptly changed the manual on crisis management, possibly to remove any blame that might fall on Park. Im vowed to turn to prosecutors to probe the case.
Park has long been accused of having been either not at Cheong Wa Dae at all while the rescue went hopelessly awry, or put under with powerful tranquilizers because she had one of the cosmetic procedures to which she was addicted. Park herself has claimed she was briefed regularly in her private quarters, where she was ensconced because she was "not feeling well."
A key Cheong Wa Dae official at the time of the ferry disaster denied the allegations. "The first report was written at 9:30 a.m. that morning, but the actual briefing to the president took place at 10:00 a.m. after we gathered more information," he told the Chosun Ilbo.
Regarding the revision of the disaster manual, the ex-official claimed the changes had nothing to do with the Sewol disaster but were made "because it was deemed that the ministry should be in charge."
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