Go to contents

BBK Suspect Arrives Ahead of Candidacy Registration

Posted November. 17, 2007 08:45,   


Kim Gyeong-jun, 41, a prime suspect in the BBK fraud case implicating Grand National Party presidential candidate Lee Myung-bak, was extradited to Korea on Friday. He arrived at Incheon International Airport at 6:30 p.m.

Upon arrival at the airport, the escort team of the Ministry of Justice briefly allowed reporters to take pictures of Kim before he was handed over to the Seoul District Prosecutors` Office. The escort team and Kim boarded Asiana Airlines flight OZ-201 at around noon on Thursday, local time, at Los Angeles International Airport.

A special investigation team of the Seoul District Prosecutors` Office, which has been investigating Kim’s stock manipulation and GNP presidential nominee Lee’s implication in the case, plans to file for an arrest warrant against Kim on Saturday on charges of violating the securities trading law, embezzlement and forging documents. The prosecutors will intensely interrogate Kim since an arrest warrant must be requested within 48 hours of detainment under the Korean law.

Political pundits believe that the approval ratings of presidential candidates will be heavily influenced by Kim’s testimony and the outcomes of the prosecution’s investigation. However, some also suggest that it may end up to be “much ado about nothing” as the rumors fueled by political parties may turn out to be groundless. The prosecutors must indict him before December 7 or 8 as they can detain him only for 20 days under the law, if the warrant is in fact issued.

“At times, (the special investigation team) questioned witnesses if it was necessary. We will conduct our investigation as speedily as possible and will reveal the truth behind the case,” said Kim Hong-il, a senior prosecutor at the Seoul District Prosecutors` Office.

Meanwhile, politicians fiercely wrangled over Kim’s extradition during the day.

“As long as justice is alive on this land and as long as a glimmer of conscience exists, we will never fall. No one can shake the historical truth and (we) will not be shaken,” Lee Myung-bak said yesterday at a rally held in Seoul. Lee, who tried to downplay the significance of Kim’s arrival, told reporters earlier in the day, “What is all this fuss about the mere extradition of a suspect?”

In contrast, United New Democratic Party Floor Leader Kim Hyo-seok criticized the GNP, saying, “The GNP seems to have lost its rationality ahead of Kim’s returning. The party, which instigated a riot, is publicly blackmailing the prosecutors.”

Regarding this case, former Grand National Party Chairman Lee Hoi-chang said, “Since this has become a major issue of the presidential election, the real facts of the case must be brought to light in a swift manner. The prosecutors will have to conduct a fast but thorough and fair investigation without being swayed by political wind or maneuvers in order to reveal the truth.”

needjung@donga.com taylor55@donga.com