Anchor: In addition to the prosecution's ongoing investigation into the Choi Soon-sil scandal, President Park Geun-hye also faces a separate probe by an independent counsel.
Our Moon Gwang-lip has more on what's expected from the special prosecutor's investigation.
Report: The National Assembly held a general meeting on Thursday and passed a bipartisan bill aimed at establishing an independent counsel to probe the Choi Soon-sil scandal.
A total of 196 lawmakers, including those from the ruling Saenuri Party, voted for the bill, while ten others voted against it. Fourteen lawmakers abstained.
The bill was submitted by 209 ruling and opposition lawmakers after the rival parties agreed to introduce an independent counsel during the vice floor leaders' meeting on Monday.
Under the bill, the president will appoint the independent counsel among two candidates that will be recommended by the main opposition Democratic Party and minor opposition People's Party.
The special probe team will consist of one independent counsel, 20 prosecutors and 40 investigators. The team will prepare for its probe for 20 days from the day the counsel is appointed. Then for the next 70 days, the team will wrap up investigations and decide whether or not to seek indictments.
The team can extend its probe once by up to 30 days if approved by the president.
Rep. Park Beomkye of the Democratic Party, who drew up the draft independent counsel bill, said the bill runs a gamut of all major suspicions related with an influence-peddling scandal involving President Park's longtime friend, Choi.
Regarding the alleged leakage of presidential documents, the independent counsel is expected to focus its investigation on the so-called three door knobs, or the president's close associates--Lee Jae-man, Ahn Bong-geun and Jeong Ho-seong.
The investigation will likely determine whether they were involved in leaking confidential documents and delivering them to Choi, her relatives or her aides.
The independent counsel will also look into whether or not former presidential secretaries An Chong-bum and other presidential officials forced local conglomerates to contribute money to the Mir and K-Sports foundations associated with Choi.
The counsel will also likely see whether the government or the ruling party passed a labor reform bill, regarded by some to favor management, or conducted a special presidential pardon of conglomerate heads as a reward for the companies' contribution to the two controversial foundations.
Other suspicions surrounding Choi will be also investigated by the counsel, including her intervention in state affairs or appointment of government officials, corruption, and illicit accumulation or concealing of wealth.
She will also likely face questioning over alleged arrangement for her equestrian daughter to be unfairly admitted to Ewha Womans University's undergraduate sports program.
It marks the 12th time an independent counsel is called in South Korea's modern political history. For the first time, it will investigate an incumbent president.
Moon Gwang-lip, KBS World Radio News.
Source : KBS World Radio