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LKP files suit against family of late Roh over bribery

Oct 17,2017
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party has sued late President Roh Moo-hyun’s family for allegedly receiving $6.4 million in bribes a decade ago, unearthing one of the country’s most headline-grabbing bribery scandals, which withered after the liberal leader committed suicide.

Liberty Korea Rep. Kim Sung-tae, who heads an internal committee to tackle the so-called “political retaliations” from the current left-leaning Moon Jae-in administration and ruling Democratic Party, said Sunday that the party filed the suit with the prosecution last Friday.

Among five people pressed with bribery charges, four were from Roh’s family, including his wife, son, daughter and nephew-in-law. The other was Park Yeon-cha, chairman of Taekwang Group, a local manufacturing company best known for producing Nike shoes.

Liberty Korea Rep. Chang Je-won, the committee’s spokesman, claimed Roh’s family colluded with Park to receive $6.4 million over three transactions from July 2007 to Feb. 22, 2008, adding that the accusation was validated in 2009 when prosecutors investigated the case during the administration of Roh’s conservative successor, Lee Myung-bak.

A political mentor of Moon, Roh admitted to receiving money from Park just shortly before prosecutors were preparing to summon him for the allegation, confessing on his website that his family requested the money and used it to pay off his debts. Roh, who led the country from 2003 to 2008, also said he was aware that the businessman gave money to his niece’s husband, but said he did not have any prior knowledge of the dealings between his family and Park.

Prosecutors were forced to wrap up the case when Roh leapt to his death from a mountain at his hometown in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang, on May 23, 2009, leaving behind a suicide note that partially read he was “in debt to so many people” and that “several people were in too much pain because of me.”

The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office at that time said the bribery investigations surrounding Roh would automatically be terminated because they had no jurisdiction over a deceased person.

While announcing its latest suit against Roh’s family, the Liberty Korea Party said it also requested the prosecution to examine the case in conjunction with the suit filed against its party member Rep. Chung Jin-suk, who last month was accused by Roh’s family of defaming the late president. On Sept. 22, Chung wrote on his personal Facebook account that Roh jumped to his death after having an argument with his wife, whereas Roh’s supporters contend prosecutors were too harsh on the late president during questioning, triggering his fatal decision.

The prosecution began investigating the defamation accusation late last month. Rep. Back Hye-ryun, spokeswoman of the Democratic Party, lambasted the Liberty Korea Party’s suit as a “shameful” attempt to water down the party’s past wrongdoings in the former conservative administrations, saying its escalation of political strife will be resisted by the general public.

BY CHOI MIN-WOO [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]