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Ex-Minister Cho to be summoned in power abuse probe

Former Justice Minister Cho Kuk will soon be questioned by prosecutors about his involvement in alleged power abuse involving Cheong Wa Dae.
Former Justice Minister Cho Kuk (Yonhap)
Former Justice Minister Cho Kuk (Yonhap)

Already mired in an ongoing investigation into corruption allegations involving his family, Cho now faces another string of power abuse suspicions.

On Wednesday, Cho appeared before the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office for a third round of questioning on corruption accusations.

He reportedly refused to answer prosecutors’ questions, just as he had at the last two interrogations.

Cho is accused of influencing battery firm WFM to undersell its shares to his wife while he was senior presidential secretary and of rigging the university applications of his son and daughter.

He also faces two fresh allegations of power abuse.

He is suspected of wrongly suspending an internal inspection into Yoo Jae-soo, then a senior official at the Financial Services Commission, in 2017 and tipping off a police investigation to influence the Ulsan mayoral election in 2018. The two alleged power abuse cases occurred while Cho was senior presidential secretary for civil affairs.

Prosecutors may bring him in for questioning on the power abuse allegations as early as this week, according to reports.

On Tuesday, a judge presiding over the trial of Cho’s wife Chung Kyung-shim refused prosecutors’ request to merge two separate trials that she faces.

Having indicted Chung in September on a forgery charge and again in November on forgery and embezzlement, prosecutors asked the court to rule on all of the crimes at the same trial, citing the overlapping forgery charges.

The court refused the request, saying that the prosecutors’ charging documents with the forgery charges submitted in September and November are not the same.

Observers speculate prosecutors will likely go ahead with two independent trials rather than ask the court again for a single trial.

By Choi Si-young (