SEOUL, A Seoul court said Monday it will postpone a hearing until later this week to decide whether former provincial Gov. An Hee-jung should be arrested for sexual offense charges.

The Seoul Western District Court said it will hold an arraignment hearing Wednesday for the former chief of South Chungcheong Province, as he did not attend a hearing originally scheduled on Monday.

The 54-year-old politician is accused of sexually assaulting his former secretary four times during overseas business trips and in Seoul.

Prosecutors filed for an arrest warrant Friday on charges of sexual intercourse and harassment by abuse of occupational authority.

The court canceled Monday's hearing due to his refusal to attend and decided to hold it later in the week on the grounds that it is not proper to immediately decide whether to arrest him.

An submitted an explanatory statement to the court earlier, saying he made the decision not to attend the hearing as a way of repenting for the disappointment and frustration he has led the public to feel.

"My client thinks he explained all he could to the prosecution during the interrogations," his lawyer said. "He no longer wants to cause any more trouble for the public and make them weary of news about him."

The lawyer also said An hopes the court will deliver a decision based on fair and objective grounds.

If neither An nor his lawyer shows up at Wednesday's hearing, the court is expected to review the legality of the arrest by examining documents only.

The disgraced liberal politician, once billed as a potential presidential candidate, resigned as governor in the wake of the scandal.

The secretary, Kim Ji-eun, made a revelation in a TV news interview early this month and filed a complaint with the prosecution the next day.

An has denied the charges and claimed the relationship was consensual.

If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison or a 15 million-won (US$13,000) fine.

Source: Yonhap News Agency