January 10, 2023 13:39
Opposition leader Lee Jae-myung appeared for questioning by prosecutors on Tuesday over his involvement in a bribery scandal in Seongam, Gyeonggi Province when he was mayor there.
Lee showed up at the Suwon District Prosecutors' Office with a group of Minjoo Party lawmakers and read a five-page statement.
"It is totally unacceptable to try Seongnam city officials' and my own sincere efforts in the interest of citizens as a crime," he said. "The summons is a politically motivated trap and I will stand up and face it."
"It amounts to an attempted judicial coup to revive a case that was dropped as groundless after several years of investigation," he added. "This is definitely a targeted investigation to eliminate a political opponent."
Some 400 supporters gathered around the office chanting Lee's name, while about 300 members of conservative groups called for his arrest.
Lee is charged with taking some W18.2 billion in bribes from Doosan Engineering and Construction and Naver in exchange for administrative favors between 2014 and 2018 (US$1=W1,244). The bribes were allegedly funneled through donations to Seongnam FC football club, and the favors included eliminating red tape so the companies could change the purpose and use of properties and bypass construction limits.
Lee was mayor of Seongnam from 2010 to 2018. Police closed an investigation into the case in 2021, when he was Gyeonggi governor.
Prosecutors first summoned him last December, but Lee did not respond. They will decide whether to arrest on charges of third-party bribery after the investigation.
Lee was the presidential candidate for the Minjoo Party last year but lost narrowly to President Yoon Seok-youl, a former prosecutor-general.
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