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(LEAD) Opposition leader says he will appear again before prosecutors for questioning

13:58 January 30, 2023

(ATTN: UPDATES with details)
By Lee Minji

SEOUL, Jan. 30 (Yonhap) -- Opposition leader Lee Jae-myung said Monday he will appear before prosecutors for another round of questioning, portraying himself as a "loser" in last year's presidential election in an attempt to paint the investigation as politically motivated.

Lee made the remark two days after he underwent questioning over corruption allegations surrounding a massive development project pushed for in Seongnam, south of Seoul, when he was its mayor. Prosecutors have since summoned him again for additional questioning.

"It is humiliating and unfair, but as a loser (in the presidential election), I will go, as they summoned me again," Lee told reporters. "It's truly wrong, but I think I am paying the price because I lost in the presidential election due to my shortcomings."

Lee lost to President Yoon Suk Yeol by a razor-thin margin in the March presidential election last year. He was elected chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) in August.

Lee, who underwent another round of questioning in a separate corruption probe earlier this month, has claimed his innocence, rejecting all charges against him as fabricated.

"I think this is a leading example of the prosecution abusing its power," Lee said. "In order to suit their conclusion, they distorted facts, humiliated (me) rather than investigating and engaged in political acts in order to arouse public suspicions."

"They completely breached the prosecution's obligation of political neutrality," he said.

Amid speculation the prosecution could seek an arrest warrant for him, Lee claimed there are no reasonable grounds for it to seek his arrest because there is no proof of the charges against him and he poses no flight risk.

Even if they seek an arrest warrant, Lee is expected to avoid arrest because, by law, prosecutors need parliamentary consent to arrest a lawmaker while the assembly is in session, and the National Assembly, where the DP has a majority, is expected to refuse to consent to Lee's arrest.

Lee lashed out at Yoon, claiming his administration is attempting to "annihilate" the main opposition party to stay in power but said his proposal on holding one-on-one talks stands valid.

"We need to meet despite the hatred," he said. "While our right hands fight, our left hands should hold each other."

Rep. Lee Jae-myung, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, speaks at the party's Supreme Council meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul on Jan. 30, 2023. (Yonhap)



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