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Prosecutors grill ex-Justice Minister Cho Kuk

Former Justice Minister Cho Kuk (Yonhap)
Former Justice Minister Cho Kuk (Yonhap)
Former Justice Minister Cho Kuk was questioned for eight hours by prosecutors Thursday. Cho appeared at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office for questioning on Thursday morning, a month after his resignation as justice minister, and three days after his wife’s second indictment on additional charges.

“Given all charges against me are all untrue, I think it’s unnecessary for me to address prosecutors’ questions one by one. I intend to reveal the truth at the court,” Cho said through his attorney. He came and left through a back door, unnoticed by the reporters waiting for him at the entrance.

Cho, accompanied by his attorney, reportedly refused to testify on some of his charges during the eight-hour questioning. Observers speculate that he was trying to find more about what the prosecutors have against him.

“Prosecutors will put everything about me under suspicion, and I may as well be in trouble for what I don’t know or recall,” Cho wrote on Facebook on Monday. “I don’t know what charge they will press. They will indict me anyway.”

Cho is suspected of a number of crimes in connection with alleged corruption involving his family. 

He is accused of involvement in his wife’s purchase of shares in battery firm WFM at a price lower than market value while he was a senior secretary to President Moon Jae-in. If found to be involved, Cho would be in violation of an ethics code for public officials and could face bribery charges.

Cho is also accused of fabricating a document to rig university applications for the couple’s son and daughter and of influencing a member of a medical school’s faculty to offer their daughter a scholarship. Cho allegedly helped his brother as well to file fraudulent lawsuits against a family-owned school foundation.

In addition, the former justice minister is suspected of complicity in his wife’s alleged crimes, including embezzlement, insider trading, obstructing business and destroying evidence.

“I feel miserable, but I intend to do the best to reveal the truth and reclaim my honor,” Cho wrote on Facebook on Monday. “However lonely, long or difficult that may be, I stand to endure it all.”

Given the sheer number of the charges, prosecutors are expected to summon Cho for more rounds of questioning before filing for an arrest warrant.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)

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