Court Rejects Arrest Warrant for Fallen Pop Idol Seung-ri

  • By Kim Seung-jae

    May 15, 2019 13:37

    A court on Tuesday rejected an arrest warrant for Seung-ri of boy band Big Bang on charges of pimping and embezzlement. Police tried to wrap up their investigation of the scandal, but their failure to obtain an arrest warrant highlights potential weak points in their evidence.

    Seoul police have been investigating charges that Seung-ri and his shady business partner Yu In-suk habitually provided prostitutes to wealthy foreign investors and clients and embezzled money from a posh nightclub they ran in Gangnam.

    But Seoul Central District Court judge Shin Jong-yeol said the embezzlement charges are open to "debate" while the other charges do not warrant arrest.

    Seung-ri of boy band Big Bang leaves a police station in Seoul on Tuesday. /Yonhap

    The celebrity scandal has dominated the headlines since last December as news of alleged sexual assault and drug abuse by wealthy clients at their Burning Sun nightclub first broke. Police put a whopping 152 investigators on the case and the probe lasted for 105 days.

    The fallen idol was grilled no fewer than 18 times.

    Seung-ri's attorney said, "Police framed Seung-ri and did not listen to us no matter what," and submitted a 70-page rebuttal to prosecutors.

    Police were extremely aggressive in their probe due to suspicions that the stars involved in the various parts of the celebrity scandal paid off law enforcement officers, and eight police officers were booked for corruption related to the scandal and one was arrested.

    But the officer who was arrested was only charged with failing to report another Gangnam club for admitting a minor.

    In November last year, police were accused of going too easy on Burning Sun staff who were accused of assaulting a patron, which drew strong suspicions that they were on the take. The patron was assaulted when he tried to protect a woman from being sexually assaulted.

    Investigation of a senior police officer also came to very little, and it looks like he will be charged only with obstruction of duties for allegedly tipping off Seung-ri of imminent raids.

    Under intense public scrutiny, police pushed hard to investigate the scandal, but the paltry results have if anything damaged the credibility of the police even more.

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