The prosecution on Friday filed charges against former Justice Minister Cho Kuk in connection with allegations that he abused his power to suspend an inquiry into a former Busan vice mayor.
The Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors’ Office charged Cho with abuse of power without physically detaining him, three weeks after the prosecution’s request for a warrant to arrest him was rejected by a local court.
Prosecutors accused Cho of abusing his power in 2017, as then-presidential secretary for civil affairs, to end his office’s special inspection into Yoo Jae-soo, who was arrested on bribery charges Dec. 13, despite substantial evidence against him.
Yoo was under inspection by the presidential office -- of which Cho was in charge -- on suspicion that he took bribes from four businesspeople when he served as a director general at the Financial Services Commission in 2017.
Cho informed the FSC of the alleged irregularities surrounding Yoo instead of sending the case to the prosecution, which prosecutors consider abuse of power on Cho’s part and an attempt to help Yoo avoid punishment. Yoo later resigned from the post, and in 2018, he became Busan’s vice mayor in charge of economic affairs.
Cho has denied any criminal responsibility, saying the decision was within his discretion as presidential secretary for civil affairs.
Cho was already sent to trial on Dec. 31 for allegedly being involved in irregularities surrounding his children’s admission into college and dubious financial investments.
Cho’s wife, Chung Kyung-shim, is also on trial in connection with the allegations.
By Ock Hyun-ju (firstname.lastname@example.org)