Lee Jae-myung, head of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) and a former DP presidential candidate, attends a meeting of the DP leadership at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, 24 October 2022. EFE-EPA FILE/YONHAP/POOL SOUTH KOREA OUT

Prosecutors indict South Korea’s opposition leader for corruption

Seoul, Mar 22 (EFE).- South Korean prosecutors indicted the main opposition party leader, Lee Jae-myung, for corruption on Wednesday.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office believe that Lee, leader of the Democratic Party (DP), provided inside information to private builders on urban development projects during his tenure as mayor of Seongnam between 2010 and 2018, which resulted in profits of about 800 billion won (some $611 million) for the builders.

They also accuse him of allowing a mechanism to distribute the profits from these projects between the city council and private investors to be eliminated, leading to losses of some 490 billion won for the city.

The prosecution suspect that Lee is linked to allegations that the government of Seongnam, located south of Seoul, attracted some 13.3 billion won in corporate donations between 2016 and 2018 to Seongnam FC – a professional football club owned by the city – in exchange for administrative favors.

Lee, who has been questioned several times by the prosecution, has claimed he is innocent, arguing that it is a politically motivated investigation by the office of the president, the conservative Yoon Suk-yeol, who was the country’s prosecutor general between 2019 and 2021 and who defeated Lee in the May 2021 presidential election by just a few hundred thousand votes.

The opposition leader described the indictment as “not surprising at all” and said he would fight in court to prove his innocence, local news agency Yonhap reported Wednesday.

However, support within his party seems to be weakening.

The parliament, where the DP has a clear majority, approved by one vote to reject the prosecution’s request to arrest Lee.

Under South Korean law, a lawmaker’s arrest requires parliamentary approval.

Since the first corruption allegations against Lee broke out in 2021, five people linked to him during his terms as mayor of Seongnam and governor of Gyeonggi province (2018-2021) have committed suicide, something that some experts claim damages the image of the opposition party ahead of the 2024 legislative elections. EFE