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Choi Soon-sil fights back

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Lee Kyung-jae, a lawyer for Choi Soon-sil, tells reporters in front of his office in southern Seoul, Thursday, that his client's 'human rights
Lee Kyung-jae, a lawyer for Choi Soon-sil, tells reporters in front of his office in southern Seoul, Thursday, that his client's 'human rights" had been violated by special investigators. / Yonhap

Her lawyer claims investigators ‘overly aggressive'

By Jung Min-ho

One of the lawyers representing Choi Soon-sil joined the chorus condemning special investigators he claims are "overly aggressive" in investigating her.

Choi is the central figure in the massive influence-peddling scandal that led the National Assembly to impeach President Park Geun-hye.

Speaking to reporters, Thursday, Lee Kyung-jae claimed investigators have coerced his client into confessing by often using abusive words and expressing their hatred toward her.

This move comes only a day after Choi, a longtime friend of President Park, condemned the investigation team led by special prosecutor Park Young-soo for the same reason, calling their methods "undemocratic."

According to the lawyer, some investigators said they will make Choi "pay for her crimes" and "destroy her family by sending her daughter Chung Yoo-ra and grandson to prison" so "she cannot hold her head up for shame."

"Investigators mentally abused her with violent language, which is unlawful," he said. "One of them even said ‘I cannot forgive you.' But investigators have no authority to use such tactics."

Also, Lee insisted, Choi was questioned for more than two hours without a lawyer, which he believes is a violation of her right to counsel.

Lee said he was not allowed to accompany Choi when investigators "questioned" her from 10:40 p.m. on Dec. 24 to 1 a.m. because they told him it would be just a simple face-to-face talk.

"I requested the investigators not to abuse her during their questioning, but they have vilified her through the media," he said. "I once again urge them not to violate her human rights."

Lee Kyu-chul, spokesman for the special prosecutor, dismissed Lee's claims, saying they are groundless accusations to defame investigators.

"Investigators have not violated any of her rights in carrying out their questioning," he said. "No official threatened to destroy her family or said the things Lee claimed. It is very regretful he tried to defame investigators, who are trying their best to find the truth. This will be the last time we respond to such groundless claims."

Observers see the lawyer's claims as part of President Park and Choi's counterattacks against the special investigation team, which has successfully arrested key suspects involved in the scandal. Among the detained are former Culture Minister Cho Yoon-sun and Kim Ki-choon, who served as presidential chief of staff from 2013 to 2015 and was often referred to as the Park administration's No. 2.

The President also fiercely defended herself in an interview released Wednesday night on YouTube channel "Jeong Kyu-jae TV." Speaking to the friendly Jeong, who is the chief editor of the conservative Korea Economic Daily, she denied all allegations against her, including that she shared property with Choi ― a key accusation that could put her behind bars for life on bribery charges.

Choi's lawyer strongly denied the allegation when asked whether he and Choi and Park communicated before they made the claims against investigators.

Jung Min-ho


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