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Counsel team to indict remaining suspects Tuesday

By Kim Bo-eun

The independent counsel team will indict suspects it has booked during its 70-day investigation into the presidential corruption scandal, as its mandate expires.

"We will review the indictments of the suspects who have been booked up until now," team spokesman Lee Kyu-chul said in a briefing, Monday.

According to the team, between 10 and 15 individuals face indictment. Among them are Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, who faces bribery charges for providing President Park Geun-hye's confidant Choi Soon-sil with 43.3 billion won in return for alleged business favors being granted to the group. Two top executives at Samsung's Future Strategy Office, Vice chairman Choi Gee-sung and President Chang Choong-ki as well as Samsung Electronics President Park Sang-jin will also likely be indicted.

Meanwhile, the team expressed regret over its failure to question President Park and search Cheong Wa Dae before the expiration of its mandate.

"The team sought to question the President, but Park's legal representatives refused the request," Lee said.

"There were differences in each side's stance, because negotiations for the President's questioning were taking place after an earlier deal fell through," he added.

The team and Park's representatives had agreed to conduct the questioning on Feb. 9, but the latter pulled out of the deal following a media report disclosing the date.

The team also failed to search Cheong Wa Dae. It attempted the search on Feb. 3, but was denied entry, as officials stated the grounds are a national security zone.

The team filed a suit with a court requesting the search, but this was dismissed.

"We reviewed the alternatives presented by Cheong Wa Dae, which was to voluntarily submit documents, but we came to the conclusion that this would have no effectiveness," Lee said.

"We will return the warrant, Tuesday."

The team consequently failed to investigate other allegations President Park faces ― which include ordering Samsung to provide funds for Choi in return for business favors, ordering the creation of a blacklist of artists critical of the government and dereliction of duty on the day of the Sewol ferry disaster in 2014.

The team is set to hand over the investigation of former presidential aide Woo Byung-woo to the prosecution for it to continue the probe. Last week, the team was denied a warrant to arrest Woo.

He faces charges of overlooking Choi's meddling in state affairs and obstructing an independent presidential investigator's probe into the Choi-controlled K-Sports and Mir foundations.

The remaining investigations into the presidential scandal will likely be undertaken by the prosecution.

The counsel team's probe ends today as acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn refused Monday a request for an extension of its mandate.

By Kim Bo-eun

The independent counsel team will indict suspects it has booked during its 70-day investigation into the presidential corruption scandal, as its mandate expires.

"We will review the indictments of the suspects who have been booked up until now," team spokesman Lee Kyu-chul said in a briefing, Monday.

According to the team, between 10 and 15 individuals face indictment. Among them are Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, who faces bribery charges for providing President Park Geun-hye's confidant Choi Soon-sil with 43.3 billion won in return for alleged business favors being granted to the group. Two top executives at Samsung's Future Strategy Office, Vice chairman Choi Gee-sung and President Chang Choong-ki as well as Samsung Electronics President Park Sang-jin will also likely be indicted.

Meanwhile, the team expressed regret over its failure to question President Park and search Cheong Wa Dae before the expiration of its mandate.

"The team sought to question the President, but Park's legal representatives refused the request," Lee said.

"There were differences in each side's stance, because negotiations for the President's questioning were taking place after an earlier deal fell through," he added.

The team and Park's representatives had agreed to conduct the questioning on Feb. 9, but the latter pulled out of the deal following a media report disclosing the date.

The team also failed to search Cheong Wa Dae. It attempted the search on Feb. 3, but was denied entry, as officials stated the grounds are a national security zone.

The team filed a suit with a court requesting the search, but this was dismissed.

"We reviewed the alternatives presented by Cheong Wa Dae, which was to voluntarily submit documents, but we came to the conclusion that this would have no effectiveness," Lee said.

"We will return the warrant, Tuesday."

The team consequently failed to investigate other allegations President Park faces ― which include ordering Samsung to provide funds for Choi in return for business favors, ordering the creation of a blacklist of artists critical of the government and dereliction of duty on the day of the Sewol ferry disaster in 2014.

The team is set to hand over the investigation of former presidential aide Woo Byung-woo to the prosecution for it to continue the probe. Last week, the team was denied a warrant to arrest Woo.

He faces charges of overlooking Choi's meddling in state affairs and obstructing an independent presidential investigator's probe into the Choi-controlled K-Sports and Mir foundations.

The remaining investigations into the presidential scandal will likely be undertaken by the prosecution.

The counsel team's probe ends today as acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn refused Monday a request for an extension of its mandate.

Kim Bo-eun bkim@koreatimes.co.kr

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