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Former South Korean official arrested in case of man killed by North Korea

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By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – A former South Korean national security adviser was arrested on Saturday for his suspected handling of a 2020 case in which a fisheries official was killed at sea by North Korean troops.

The murder case has sparked controversy as the family of the official, Lee Dae-jun, has refuted claims by former President Moon Jae-in’s administration that he sought to defect to the North due to gambling debts, mental health and an unhappy life. .

Incumbent President Yoon Suk-yeol’s government reversed this interpretation, saying there was no evidence of an attempted defection. Prosecutors also launched an investigation into Lee’s death and a 2019 case in which two North Korean fishermen were deported to the isolated country against their will.

Moon’s then-national security adviser, Suh Hoon, faces allegations that he ordered the suppression of intelligence reports to cover up Lee’s murder and manipulated evidence to support the defection claim.

Seoul’s Central District Court, following a 19-hour deliberation, granted an arrest warrant for Suh on Saturday, citing “the seriousness of the matter, the suspect’s status and the risk of destruction of evidence.”

Suh, who also served as a spy chief, declined to answer reporters’ questions when he appeared for deliberation, but denied the allegations and accused Yoon’s government of political retaliation.

“It is unimaginable to manipulate a case that puts a citizen’s life and honor at stake,” Suh ​​said at a news conference in October, saying he made decisions based on intelligence analysis and circumstantial evidence.

Yoon’s ruling People Power Party said Moon and his aides “not only let Lee die, they killed his honor by vindicating his defection while stomping on eggshells around (North Korean leader) Kim Jong’s regime A”.

“Now only one person remains beyond the truth line: former President Moon,” People Power said in a statement.

Yoon’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but said prosecutors operate independently and he was not involved in their investigation.

Suh’s arrest has sparked debate among lawmakers over whether prosecutors will expand investigations to seek criminal charges against Moon, who has prioritized inter-Korean reconciliation through the end of his term in May.

Moon denounced the investigation as “gone too far” and released a statement this week accusing the Yoon administration of making baseless claims and politicizing security issues.

Lee’s brother Lee Rae-jin issued a statement refuting Moon’s comment, saying his government failed to save Lee and was now set on “playing puns”. He criticized Moon for asking for evidence to show why his brother did not defect, without presenting any evidence to support his own claim.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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