South Korean Prosecutors Search to Arrest Starvation-Hanging Opposition Chief
Prosecutors on Monday requested a Seoul courtroom to subject an arrest warrant for South Korea’s main opposition determine, Lee Jae-myung, on corruption expenses, 18 days after Mr. Lee started a starvation strike to protest President Yoon Suk Yeol’s overseas and home insurance policies.
Mr. Lee, the chief of the Democratic Occasion, was taken to a hospital hours earlier than prosecutors utilized for the warrant, on expenses together with bribery and breach of belief. Occasion officers mentioned Mr. Lee had been discovered practically unconscious in his workplace, his blood sugar ranges having fallen sharply.
Mr. Lee, 58, misplaced the 2022 presidential election to Mr. Yoon, a former prosecutor, by a razor-thin margin and has been the topic of a collection of felony investigations since then. He has vehemently denied each cost introduced in opposition to him, calling Mr. Yoon’s authorities “a dictatorship by prosecutors” and accusing him of utilizing the felony justice system to intimidate and discredit his political enemies.
Mr. Lee started his starvation strike — a method of political protest typically used throughout South Korea’s years of army dictatorship — on Aug. 31, first in a tent in entrance of the Nationwide Meeting constructing and later in his workplaces. He mentioned Mr. Yoon had presided over a “retreat of democracy” in South Korea.
Among the newest expenses in opposition to Mr. Lee stem from his time as mayor of Seongnam, a metropolis south of Seoul. Prosecutors say he gave unlawful quid professional quo favors to a personal investor in a Seongnam actual property mission between 2014 and 2017.
Additionally they say that between 2019 and 2020 — when Mr. Lee was the governor of Gyeonggi Province, which borders North Korea — he requested a neighborhood underwear producer, Ssangbangwool, to illegally switch $8 million to North Korea, purportedly in an try to coax the North into getting into an financial trade program with Gyeonggi.
Mr. Lee, a member of the Nationwide Meeting, won’t be arrested until his personal social gathering lets it occur. By legislation, South Korean courts can not maintain hearings on arrest warrants for lawmakers until the legislature votes to allow them to accomplish that. The Democratic Occasion controls a majority within the Nationwide Meeting, which in February put a cease to prosecutors’ final try to arrest Mr. Lee.
In latest months, Mr. Lee has mentioned he would not count on his social gathering to defend him from arrest. In latest days, social gathering members have requested him to cease his starvation strike, citing his deteriorating well being. Over the weekend, his political opponent Kim Gi-hyeon, who leads Mr. Yoon’s Individuals Energy Occasion, urged Mr. Lee on social media to cease fasting and focus on his grievances within the legislature.
Mr. Lee and his social gathering have blamed Mr. Yoon for rising client costs and excoriated him for searching for to enhance ties with Japan, South Korea’s former colonial ruler. They lately accused Mr. Yoon of risking public well being by not opposing Japan’s launch of handled radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant.
Mr. Yoon’s workplace had no rapid touch upon Mr. Lee’s starvation strike or on prosecutors’ try to arrest him. On Monday, Mr. Yoon left Seoul for a five-day go to to New York for the United Nations Common Meeting, the place he was anticipated to lift warnings about indicators of rising army cooperation between North Korea and Russia.
Mr. Yoon, 62, a conservative, got here to energy vowing to reverse his predecessor Moon Jae-in’s coverage of emphasizing negotiations and reconciliation with North Korea. However he has since suffered low approval rankings, with a majority of respondents in varied surveys disapproving of his efficiency in workplace.
In latest weeks, Mr. Yoon has escalated his assaults on progressive political enemies, likening a few of them to “anti-state forces” and accusing them of colluding with North Korea. He has additionally accused opponents of spreading “faux information.” Opposition lawmakers have accused him of worsening the nation’s political polarization.
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