Hoopla Over Lee Myung-bak's Clean Sheet Escalates

    December 07, 2007 09:55

    Politicians were in an excitable state on Thursday over prosecutors’ decision a day earlier to clear Grand National Party presidential candidate Lee Myung-bak of involvement in an investment scandal and other charges. The United New Democratic Party held a second day of protest rallies against the decision in Seoul’s Myeong-dong and Gwanghwamun. Meanwhile, the GNP in a meeting of lawmakers and party committee chairmen declared the crisis caused by the BBK scandal over and adopted a resolution condemning “political maneuvering” that would keep discredited charges alive with calls for a special counsel to re-investigate.

    Members of the United New Democratic Party's campaign committee hold a banner written by an artist that says “Truth will prevail” at a candlelight vigil against the prosecutors' decision to clear Grand National Party presidential candidate Lee Myung-bak of involvement in the BBK scandal, in Gwanghwamun, Seoul on Thursday. / Yonhap

    At the UNDP rally in Myeong-dong, the party’s candidate Chung Dong-young told reporters a “grand conspiracy” was afoot and vowed to “stake everything on my struggle against the reactionary, corruption-oriented alliance among a certain candidate, a certain chaebol, a certain group of prosecutors and certain media outlets.” It was an apparent attempt to lump together all the bugbears of the broad ruling camp -- including Lee Myung-bak, Samsung, which is implicated in a separate scandal, and the critical press -- into one big enemy.

    In the National Assembly’s Legislation and Judiciary Committee, UNDP lawmakers trying to submit a bill tasking a special counsel with investigating Lee Myung-bak and demanding the presence of Prosecutor General Lim Chai-jin scuffled with GNP legislators.

    Meanwhile, representatives of independent candidate Lee Hoi-chang and the UNDP interviewed the accused in the BBK scandal, Kim Kyung-joon, in prison. UNDP lawmaker Jeong Seong-ho afterwards said Kim claimed he gave false testimony to prosecutors, “who used a carrot-and-stick approach to win him over in return for their promise to seek a lighter sentence in court."

    Attorney Kim Jung-sool for Lee Hoi-chang challenged prosecutors’ announcement on Wednesday that Kim Kyung-joon admitted forging what he had claimed were under-the-table contracts proving Lee’s involvement. He also claimed the accused “never admitted” he was the sole owner of BBK, the boiler-room operation at the heart of the scandal. The lawyer claimed to be amassing evidence that prosecutors struck a deal with Kim Kyung-joon. He also demanded prosecutors present the recording of their questioning of Kim.

    At a meeting of the GNP’s supreme council, party Chairman Kang Jae-sup dismissed such claims as a last-ditch attempt by "those who have failed in government” to drag the matter out. “They still dream of turning the tables,” he said, and declared “war on political maneuvering."

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