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Seoul Police Search Uri Party Office

Posted January. 17, 2006 03:59,   


The Gwanak police station in Seoul conducted a search and seizure of the Seoul branch of the Uri Party office in Yeongdeungpo regarding the party’s “ghost members” and member fee payment substitution case. The police confiscated for investigation a box containing membership application forms, lists of names, and related documents of about 150 party members in Bongchun-dong, Gwanak-gu.

It is unusual for investigative authorities to search and seize the entire list of members of a certain area in order to reveal an illegal act by a political party.

The police plans to investigate whether members personally filled out the application forms by comparing handwriting, whether the party won agreement for the accession of the members, and whether the party election candidates or their deputies paid membership fees for the members. The police is said to have identified and is investigating five Uri Party members suspected of leading the recruitment of ghost members.

A source from the police said, “It will take about two or three days to review the data. Most of the 156 members under investigation are elderly, so we plan to investigate them in person by paying them visits.”

The Uri Party is suspected of registering as temporary members without assent over 100 senior citizens aged 60 years or older in the Bongchun-dong area prior to the party convention scheduled on February 18 and the local elections in May. The party also faces suspicion that it withdrew monthly membership fees of 1,000 to 2,000 won from the bank accounts of these “members.”

Meanwhile, the Uri Party said in a press briefing, “We asked the Gwanak police to investigate in order to get to the bottom of this case and hold those involved accountable.”

Jae-Myoung Lee egija@donga.com mint4a@donga.com