Prosecutors seek arrest warrant for South Korean opposition leader

The South Korean prosecutor’s office requested an arrest warrant for the leader of the main opposition party, Lee Jae-myungwhom he considers a key figure in a corruption scandal that occurred during his tenure as mayor of a town on the outskirts of Seoul.

The Prosecutor’s Office requested the arrest warrant on Wednesday from a court in the Central District of Seoul, according to the Yonhap news agency.

Prosecutors believe that Lee, leader of the liberal Democratic Party (PD), provided developers with whom it would be associated with insider information about municipal development projects during his tenure -between 2010 and 2018- as mayor of Seongnam (southeast of Seoul).

This allegedly affected the bankruptcy proceedings and meant a profit of about 800 billion won (about 625 million dollars) for the aforementioned promoters.

They also accuse him of allow a mechanism to split the profits from these projects between the council and private investors to be removed, allowing the latter to enrich themselves greatly at the expense of the municipal coffers, which would have stopped entering a few 490 billion won (about 382 million dollars).

Lee has been questioned three times in the last month -the last, on February 10- on account of this case and another alleged Corruption plot surrounding Seongnam FCa professional soccer club owned by the city.

Lee and the PD have insisted on their innocence, arguing that this is a politically motivated prosecution investigation from the office of the president, the conservative Yoon Suk-yeol, who was the State Attorney General and who prevailed over the now opposition leader in the May 2021 presidential elections by just a few hundred thousand votes.

Even if the Prosecutor’s Office manages to obtain the aforementioned arrest warrant, the opposition leader should not be able to be detained, since the law establishes that for those with a parliamentary seat, such as Lee, it is necessary to obtain an approval from the chamber so that it can be executed, something highly improbable, since the PD has a majority in the chamber.


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