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South Korea court issues arrest warrant for former PM on bribery charges

[JURIST] A South Korean court on Wednesday issued an arrest warrant for former prime minister Han Myeong-sook on bribery charges. Han is accused of accepting USD $50,000 from former Korea Express CEO Kwak Young-wook in 2007 in exchange for helping him become president of Korea South-East Power Co., an affiliate of the state-run Korea Electric Power Corporation [corporate websites]. Han, a senior adviser to the main opposition Democratic Party, has denied the allegations [Korea Times report], calling the charges politically motivated. It is unclear whether authorities will exercise the arrest warrant or continue to seek voluntary cooperation, but Han has already ignored two subpoenas issued earlier this month. An indictment could be issued [JoongAng Daily report] next week.

Han served as the country's first female prime minister under president Roh Moo-hyun [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive] from April 2006 - March 2007. Roh, who was himself the target of a bribery investigation, died [JURIST report] in May from an apparent suicide. Shortly before his death, prosecutors had questioned Roh on suspicion that he accepted up to $6 million in bribes from Park Yeon-cha, a financial supporter who is also CEO of a shoe manufacturing company. Roh admitted that his wife had received $1 million from Park, but said the money was a loan rather than a bribe. Roh became president in 2003 after campaigning heavily against corruption.

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