DP leader Lee indicted for alleged election law violations

SEOUL-- Opposition leader Lee Jae-myung was indicted on Thursday for allegations that he violated the election law by making false statements related to two land development projects in Seongnam, just south of Seoul, during his presidential campaign last year.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office charged Lee, the chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP), with election law violations, one day before the expiry of the statute of limitations for his cases.

Lee is suspected of spreading false information related to the so-called Daejang-dong land development project in Seongnam, in violation of the election law, by denying knowing a key figure of the project during his presidential campaign.

In a TV interview on Dec. 22 last year, Lee denied acquaintance with Kim Moon-ki, a former head of Seongnam Development Corp.'s project development team, during his time as Seongnam mayor between 2015 and 2016.

Kim was found dead the previous day amid an investigation into his alleged involvement in the Daejang-dong scandal. Civic groups filed complaints against Lee after photos were released of Lee posing together with Kim and several others, including some from an extended overseas business trip in January 2015. But Lee has claimed that he did not know Kim because he was a low-level municipal employee.

Lee is also suspected of making false statements about another land development project in Seongnam's Baekhyeon-dong district during his presidential campaign last year, also in violation of the election law.

The Baekhyeon-dong scandal centered on allegations that the municipal government of Seongnam gave special treatment to a private developer, which developed the district into apartment complexes between 2015 and 2016.

The private developer reportedly earned windfall profits after the city somehow canceled an original plan to provide rental homes and allowed the developer to sell homes to consumers.

Lee, as a DP presidential candidate, alleged during a parliamentary inspection on Oct. 20 last year that the special favor in the Baekhyeon-dong project was given at the request of the land ministry.

But the People Power Party (PPP), the then opposition party, said the special treatment was found to have been voluntarily awarded by the Seongnam city government and filed a complaint against Lee on charges of spreading false information in violation of the election law.

Lee was asked to appear before prosecutors for questioning over the allegations early this month but eventually decided not to comply with the summons and submitted a written response instead.

Lee ran for president as a DP candidate but was narrowly defeated by PPP candidate Yoon Suk-yeol. Lee was elected as the DP's new chairman last month.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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