July 10, 2018 13:31
The wife of disgraced ex-South Chungcheong Province Governor An Hee-jung is accused of trying to smear her husband's former secretary, whom he is charged with raping.
A witness who had been a staffer on An's last gubernatorial campaign said Monday that An's wife asked him to dig into the private life of Kim Ji-eun when the scandal broke back in March.
The staffer made the claim at An's hearing on Monday. "On March 5, right after Kim Ji-eun appeared on television going public with her rape, I received a message from An Hee-jung's oldest son telling me to 'gather information' about her," the staffer, surnamed Koo, told the court.
"I called [An's son], and his mother answered and asked me to send her information about Kim Ji-eun's past love interests and relationships with men," Koo said, adding that he refused.
Kim was absent at Monday's hearing citing health reasons.
Koo said An also tried to contact senior news media executives to ask them to kill the story. "I heard An personally tell a senior executive at a media company to stop a reporter who started covering the story," he said. "An was like a king and represented our hopes within the election camp."
An, who was tipped as a likely future presidential contender for the ruling Minjoo Party, was indicted on April 11 on charges of abusing his authority to coerce Kim into sex, a lesser charge than rape that carries a lower burden of proof.
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