Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl on Wednesday ordered the creation of an independent investigative team to handle an alleged blackmail case at the center of his friction with the justice minister.
The Supreme Prosecutors' Office announced Yoon's decision six days after Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae issued a rare directive ordering the chief prosecutor to take his hands off the sensitive case involving his key aide and a now fired TV reporter. Earlier in the day, Choo sent an ultimatum for Yoon to answer by early Thursday.
The prosecution office recommended to the justice minister the formation of an independent investigative team at the Seoul High Prosecutors' Office to take over the case currently under probe at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office.
Yoon made the decision "respecting the justice minister's directive and considering opinions in and outside the prosecution," the Supreme Prosecutors' Office said in a statement.
The new team will also include prosecutors currently in charge of the case and will report to the chief of the Seoul High Prosecutors' Office. Yoon will guarantee its independence and will receive reports of the investigation results later, it said.
The case centers on a former cable TV reporter suspected of using his alleged close ties with ranking prosecutor Han Dong-hoon, a close associate of Yoon, to pressure a jailed financier to divulge allegedly corrupt acts by a pro-government commentator.
Citing the close relations between Han and Yoon, Choo ordered Yoon not to get involved in the investigation and to ensure the investigation proceeds independently of the chief prosecutor. (Yonhap)