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[Newsmaker] Ex-minister faces prospect of third round of questioning, after saying nothing in first two

His detained wife undergoes second court proceeding

Former Justice Minister Cho Kuk, who refused to answer any questions in two rounds of questioning by the prosecution, may be called in for a third round this week.

An additional inquiry may be needed based on evidence seized during a raid of Cho’s law school office Nov. 6, according to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office on Monday.

Prosecutors said they would question Cho over certain electronic documents found on his computer hard drives.


Cho leaves the prosecutors’ office Nov. 21 after a second round of questioning. (Yonhap)
Cho leaves the prosecutors’ office Nov. 21 after a second round of questioning. (Yonhap)

Cho invoked his right to remain silent during the two previous prosecution interviews, which took place earlier this month.

After the first round of questioning on Nov. 14, Cho said in a statement released through his lawyer that he “deemed it undignified and unnecessary to respond and explain it all.” He said he would clarify the points of contention in court rather than at the prosecutors’ office.

Prosecutors said they would decide on the next step in the judicial process, such as whether to request an arrest warrant, after their third meeting with Cho.

Meanwhile, the second pretrial hearing for Cho’s wife, Chung Kyung-shim, was held Tuesday morning.

Chung was detained Nov. 8 on some dozen allegations related to financial malfeasance surrounding a family-operated fund and illicit efforts to influence her children’s school admissions.

During Tuesday’s hearing the Seoul Central District Court ordered the prosecution to make modifications to the written arraignment to accommodate the 14-count indictments brought Nov. 11, after Chung’s initial indictment in September.

Chung faces a total of 15 charges now, including document forgery, destruction of evidence, fraud, embezzlement, obstruction of official duties, and violations of capital market laws and real-name financial transaction laws, among others.

Cho is suspected of complicity in the alleged crimes.

As defendants are not required to attend pretrial proceedings, Chung did not appear in court.

Other family members of the ex-minister put on trial on related charges are his brother Cho Kwon and cousin’s son Cho Beom-dong.

By Kim Arin (arin@heraldcorp.com)

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