President Park Appoints Private Attorney to Lead Independent Counsel Investigation into Her Own Scandal
SEOUL, Nov. 30 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye on Wednesday appointed a former prosecutor as the independent counsel to lead an investigation into a high-profile corruption scandal involving her and her longtime friend.
Park selected Park Young-soo, 64, one of the two candidates that the opposition parties recommended the previous day in accordance with the special investigation law that took effect last week.
The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said that the president will "actively" cooperate with the independent probe.
"Park also plans to respond to a direct inquiry by the independent counsel and explain her position on the case," Jung Youn-kuk, presidential spokesman, told reporters.
"We hope that through the independent investigation and (subsequent) court proceedings, all truths behind this scandal can be revealed."
The appointee, currently a private attorney, is well known for his handling of major corruption cases involving local conglomerates. He came into the limelight in the 2000s for his investigations into a false accounting case involving a trading unit of SK Group and a slush fund scandal surrounding Hyundai Motor Group.
"I feel heavy responsibility in taking this role at this critical juncture for the country," attorney Park said in a press release. "I am extremely determined as this is a probe into overall state affairs, including the president and those surrounding her." The lawyer pointed out that the investigation reflects the demands of the people who, under democratic law, have sovereignty over the country.
He vowed to carry out the investigation based on law and principle, free of political bias, with no exceptions being made for those holding power.
Regarding a face-to-face questioning of the president, the attorney said he will decide on the details and how to proceed after reviewing all the investigation materials compiled by the prosecution.
The independent counsel said he will do his utmost to transparently inform the public in regards to the constitution of his team and detailed schedules down the road.
His team, which will consist of 105 members including 20 prosecutors, is expected to begin work soon. It has a mandate to investigate the case for three months, which can be extended by a month upon presidential approval.
The team will look into a slew of allegations involving Park, her friend Choi Soon-sil and several former aides. Earlier this month, state prosecutors cited Park as an accomplice in the scandal.
Park is purported to have played a role in pressuring major conglomerates into donating large sums of money to two nonprofit foundations, a charge that some legal experts say can be seen as an abuse of authority.
She is also suspected of allowing her friend Choi -- who has no security clearance -- to gain access to advance drafts of presidential speeches and documents, some of which are classified as confidential.
Cheong Wa Dae has called the allegations against Park "groundless and politically biased," vowing to establish her "innocence" through the forthcoming independent probe.
After the independent counsel files charges against any suspects in the case, a district court is to rule on it within three months. An appeals court and the Supreme Court must deliver their rulings within two months each.'