Prosecutors Set to Probe Fabricated Sewol Report Allegations

Write : 2017-10-13 16:50:23 Update : 2017-10-13 17:39:51

Prosecutors Set to Probe Fabricated Sewol Report Allegations

Anchor: The top office has asked the prosecution to investigate suspicions that officials under the Park Geun-hye administration lied about when the former president first learned the Sewol ferry was sinking back in 2014. The impeached ex-president's aides had claimed Park did not waste much time in instructing her officials to take action to help the hundreds on board. Incumbent presidential officials believe that documents were fabricated to depict as if Park was half-an-hour faster. 
Kim Bum-soo has the latest.  
Report: Investigators are now working on finding out what happened at the presidential office on April 16th, 2014 -- the day the ill-fated Sewol ferry capsized with hundreds of people on board.  

Presidential Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok on Thursday told reporters that newly found evidence suggests officials under the previous administration falsified time records of when an initial situation report about the sinking was filed to the presidential office.

He said modifications were made six months after the disaster to change the time the report was received from 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. in a bid to cast the former president in a more favorable light.

[Sound bite: Presidential Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok (Korean)]
"They put the initial report time to president to 30 minutes later. We can only conclude that they tried to reduce the gap between the timing of the [initial] report and the president's first instructions. Considering the minute by minute situation at that time, this brings us a lot to think about."

The former administration had claimed Park was informed about the sinking at 10 a.m. and issued her first instructions 15 minutes later. It was under severe pressure for its ineffective response to the sinking that killed more than 300 people.

To find out about the critical 30 minutes, the presidential office on Friday handed over the case to the Supreme Prosecutors' Office's anti-corruption unit.
The presidential office believes the alleged modifications constitute falsifying public documents. Former Presidential Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon and ex-presidential national security adviser Kim Kwan-jin are expected to be questioned regarding the allegations. 
The former Park government is also accused of illegally fixing the Presidential Directives 318 for crisis management a month after the sinking. It was changed to indicate that the Ministry of the Interior and Safety is responsible for public safety issues, although it was the National Security Office of the presidential office that was originally specified.

The ruling Democratic Party called the revelation shocking and urged the prosecution to conduct a thorough investigation and bring those responsible to justice. The minor opposition People's Party said if the allegations are found true, they will not be tolerated.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party, however, raised doubts about the presidential office's accusations against its former party chairwoman. It also called for an end to the "politicizing" of the Sewol tragedy. The former ruling party claimed the timing of the disclosure is apparently aimed at distracting attention away from the parliamentary inspection of the current government.

A presidential official said that the Liberty Korea Party's responses were expected and clarified that incumbent presidential staff did not deliberately find the new evidence. 
Kim Bum-soo, KBS World Radio News. 

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