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Prosecution questions dismissal of warrant for ex-labor minister

Prosecutors on Thursday questioned the court’s dismissal of a warrant to detain a former labor minister suspected of having taken part in an anti-labor union scheme led by the state spy agency during the Lee Myung-bak administration.

Lee Chae-pil, who served as labor minister from 2011 to 2013, allegedly supported the establishment of a third umbrella labor organization to counter existing union groups -- the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions.

He is suspected of having delivered funds from the National Intelligence Service to the pro-government labor group in 2011 when he was the vice labor minister. 

Lee Chae-pil (Yonhap)
Lee Chae-pil (Yonhap)

On Wednesday night, the Seoul Central District Court denied the prosecutors‘ request for a warrant to detain Lee filed Monday on charges of causing losses to state coffers. The court cited insufficient explanation as to why Lee’s actions constitute a crime, in dismissing the warrant request.

A prosecutor at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said on Thursday that it was “difficult to accept the dismissal of the warrant and the cited reason.”

“It has been proven that former minister Lee was actively involved from the initial stage (of the NIS’ anti-union scheme) and demanded the NIS to provide the funds, that the NIS illegally paid money to Lee’s junior staff who used it to support the new union,” he said.

“Questions are being raised on whether there are some other standards or intentions behind the repeated dismissals of warrants in cases related to anti-union schemes. The current situation is highly regrettable and deeply worrying.”

Earlier, the court denied 11 of the 13 requests for warrants to detain suspects of an alleged sabotage of labor union activities at an after-sales service unit of Samsung Electronics.

As the warrant to detain a former chief of the after-sales service company was rejected twice, prosecutors are investigating whether the police collaborated with Samsung Electronics to hamper union activities.

Prosecutors filed for a warrant to detain a former ranking police officer who is suspected of having received bribes worth 60 million won ($53,571) from Samsung and tipping off company officials about union movements among its employees.

The court questioned the former police officer surnamed Kim on Thursday to determine the validity of a warrant.

By Kim So-hyun (