Sun, Jan 11, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Key politicians jailed in S Korea

AFP , SEOUL

A former top election campaigner for South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and five other key politicians were jailed yesterday in a sweeping anti-corruption campaign, prosecutors said.

The most outstanding figure among the six jailed was Chyung Dai-chul, who served as the head of Roh's electioneering camp during the presidential election in December, 2002.

Chyung, who also chaired the former ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP), was charged with accepting a total of US$750 million from three companies including Daewoo Construction Co in 2002 and last year.

He joined Uri Party last year when loyalists of the president broke up with the MDP, dominated by Roh's predecessor Kim Dae-jung, to create the new party with a view to ridding politics of corruption.

A Seoul district court judge said the six accused would "receive severe punishment and ... will likely destroy evidence," as he approved the pre-trial detention of the six lawmakers.

Five others included three lawmakers from the opposition Grand National Party (GNP) and two others from the MDP.

Kim Young-iel, secretary general of the GNP, was accused of being involved in raising US$39 million in illicit GNP campaign funds from four conglomerates, Samsung, LG, Hyundai Motor and SK, before the election.

He is also charged with accepting 1.07 billion won (US$1 million) in slush funds from Asiana Airlines without issuing receipts.

The four other lawmakers were also charged with taking bribes, raising illegal campaign funds or embezzling.

Prosecutors have also asked for arrest warrants from the court for two other GNP lawmakers including Choi Don-woong who once served as a chief financer for presidential candidate Lee Hoi-chang.

The funding scandal has shed light on South Korea's deep-rooted political corruption and tainted the presidency of Roh, elected on a clean government platform.

Last month prosecutors indicted six of Roh's close allies for engaging in illegal fundraising during the presidential election season.

Investigators said around four billion won (US$3.3 million) had been illegally amassed for the Roh camp.

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