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South Korea forms special team to probe attack on US envoy

IANS

Seoul: South Korean prosecutors have formed a special team to probe the attack on US ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert after police raided the home of the assailant, a media report said on Friday.

The Seoul Central District Court formed a special team, composed of about 40 prosecutors and investigators, according to a Xinhua report.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, which formed a team of 75 investigators on Thursday, would forward the case to the prosecution team.

The US ambassador was slashed on his face and wrist with a knife on Thursday, as he was preparing for a lecture in the South Korean capital of Seoul.

While being arrested, the 55-year-old assailant, Kim Ki-jong, shouted out his opposition to “war exercises”, referring to the ongoing US-South Korea annual war games, code-named “Key Resolve” and “Foal Eagle”, that kicked off on Monday.

The attacker also proclaimed his support for the unification of the two Koreas.

In July 2010 , Kim had received a two-year suspended jail term for throwing rocks at the Japanese ambassador to South Korea.

Police sought an arrest warrant for Kim on charges of attempted murder, violence against a foreign mission and obstruction of business.

Though Kim insisted that he had no intention of killing the US envoy, the police said that Kim attacked Lippert several times with a 25cm knife, which indicated his intention to murder.

About 25 police investigators raided Kim’s home and office after receiving a search warrant from court, and seized documents and hard discs.

The police are also analysing his mobile phone records. The authorities are also investigating if Kim violated the National Security Law, which bans South Koreans from publicly sympathising with North Korea. According to police, Kim had visited North Korea seven times between 1999 and 2007, and had tried to erect an altar for the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in central Seoul in December 2011.

Following the attack on the US envoy, North Korea said that it was a “deserved punishment”. North Korea, and some far-left groups in South Korea, had voiced strong opposition to the US-South Korea joint military drills.

 

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