Prosecution, opposition leader continue to conflict over questioning schedule

The prosecution and opposition leader Lee Jae-myung continued to clash Wednesday over the timing of his appearance for questioning regarding his alleged involvement in a company's illegal money transfers to North Korea.

The Suwon District Prosecutors Office requested that the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) appear for questioning between Thursday and Saturday. Earlier in the day, lawyers for Lee, who has been on an anti-government hunger strike since Thursday, notified the prosecution that he would attend next Tuesday.

"As Chairman Lee has previously refused two summonses and his fasting was hindering the investigation, we urged him to attend the questioning between Sept. 7 and 9 this week," the prosecution office said in a release.

Lee was booked by the prosecution in Suwon, 30 kilometers south of Seoul, last month on the charge of third-party bribery in connection with Ssangbangwool Group's remittances to North Korea on behalf of Gyeonggi Province between January 2019 and January 2020 when he was its governor.

Out of the $8 million sent, prosecutors suspect that $3 million was intended to facilitate Lee's planned visit to Pyongyang, while the remainder was meant for Gyeonggi's smart farm support program in North Korea.

The prosecution's two previous attempts to interrogate him were canceled due to disagreements over the schedule between the two sides.

Initially, the prosecution summoned him on Aug. 23 for an appearance on Aug. 30, but he offered to attend on Aug. 24 or 26, which the prosecutors refused.

On Aug. 28, the party's spokesperson announced Lee would undergo questioning in September when there is no plenary session of the National Assembly, possibly between Sept. 11 and Sept. 15.

Late last week, the prosecution refused the offer and told him to appear this Monday. The party accepted it, but on condition that the inquiry would last only two hours in the morning.

The prosecution rejected the condition and the party announced that he would not appear on the proposed date.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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