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Main opposition’s attempt to impeach prosecutors draws backlash

Main opposition Democratic Party of Korea lawmakers pass a bill on impeaching four prosecutors during a plenary session at the National Assembly in Seoul, Tuesday. Yonhap

The main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) is attempting to impeach four prosecutors who have been investigating major political scandals with alleged links to Rep. Lee Jae-myung, its former chairman. This move is drawing a backlash from ruling party lawmakers and prosecutors, who claim that the DPK is exploiting its majority to protect its chief from legal troubles.

Rep. Choo Kyung-ho, floor leader of the ruling People Power Party (PPP), said in a press conference Wednesday that the DPK is “destroying the very reason for the National Assembly’s existence only to protect former Chairman Lee.”

“The defendant Lee Jae-myung and his confidants threatening retaliatory impeachment against prosecutors is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black,” Choo said. “All these actions by the DPK are blatant attempts to obstruct justice and (support) Lee’s ambitions for the presidency.”

A day earlier, the DPK, which holds 175 of the 300 Assembly seats, passed bills unilaterally on impeaching four prosecutors who investigated land 합법 development scandals in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, and an unauthorized remittance to North Korea by a South Korean firm.

Lee, indicted for his alleged involvement in those cases, has been attending trials since last year. Lee resigned from the chairman post last month to renew his chairmanship in the party’s national convention in August.

The DPK claims that those prosecutors “are politically motivated and have committed illegalities.” DPK spokesperson Rep. Kang Yu-jung said in a press conference Wednesday that the prosecutors “misappropriated personal information, engaged in backdoor dealings and intimidated suspects into providing false testimony.”

However, the PPP’s Choo said the DPK’s accusation is “based solely on the DPK’s unilateral claims, and there is no objective evidence proving the suspicion.”

Prosecutors are also expressing strong opposition to the DPK’s move. Prosecutor General Lee One-seok told reporters Tuesday that the impeachment attempt is “equivalent to having former Chairman Lee, who is the defendant, preside over his own trial while the DPK and the National Assembly take on the role of the judiciary.”

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