How 'Neutral" will be the Independent Counsel for Choi Soon-sil Gate?

How 'Neutral" will be the Independent Counsel for Choi Soon-sil Gate?

SEOUL, Nov. 23 (Yonhap) -- The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday voiced hope that the opposition parties will recommend "balanced, neutral" candidates for an independent counsel to investigate a high-profile corruption case involving President Park Geun-hye's confidante.

Under the law on the independent probe, which took effect Tuesday, the main opposition Democratic Party and the minor People's Party are to recommend one candidate each. The president is to appoint one of them within two weeks of the law's effectuation.

"We believe balanced and neutral figures will be selected to carry out the investigation," Jung Youn-kuk, presidential spokesman, told reporters.'

Asked if Park could reject the opposition parties' candidates if they are not deemed as being neutral, the spokesman repeated, "The president is to pick one of the figures recommended by the parties in line with the law."

The probe team, which will consist of 105 staffers, including 20 prosecutors, has a mandate to investigate the scandal for up to four months. It is expected to begin its investigation next month.

Park faces allegations that she played a role in pressuring local conglomerates into donating large sums of money to two nonprofit organizations.

She is also suspected of having allowed her confidante Choi Soon-sil to gain unlawful access to presidential speeches and documents, some of which were classified as secret.

Park's attorney has denied all the allegations, saying they are based on "imagination and conjecture," and said the chief executive wanted to dispel all "unfounded" speculation through due legal process.

Touching on a news report that Cheong Wa Dae has purchased Viagra, a drug for men with erectile dysfunction, the spokesman said the drug was purchased to prepare for Park's overseas trip to high-altitude regions. He stressed that Viagra can be used to treat altitude sickness, and that Park has not used it yet.

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