Prosecution searches national archives for summit transcript

(ATTAN: UPDATES with more information in 3-4 paras; RECASTS headline; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, Aug. 16 (Yonhap) -- State prosecutors began searching the national archives Friday as part of their ongoing probe into the disappearance of a 2007 inter-Korean summit transcript that has become a major political issue.

The move comes after a Seoul court earlier this week allowed the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office to see all presidential records of the Roh Moo-hyun administration of 2003-2008 that are supposedly kept at the National Archives of Korea (NAK).

With the court-issued search and seizure warrant, a team of 28 investigators and prosecutors entered the NAK building in Seongnam, just south of Seoul, around 9:44 a.m. to begin the search, which could take up to 40 days, prosecution officials said.

"The documents stored at a library of the archives can be browsed directly," a prosecution official said. "However, it takes time to view a sealed document at an electronic library as we have to copy every single one," the official added, citing the possibility that a file could be destroyed in the unsealing process.

Earlier, a bipartisan parliamentary body failed to locate the transcript and later concluded that it was missing from the files for reasons unknown.

The transcript is needed to determine whether the late South Korean liberal leader Roh seriously undermined the country's sovereignty during his 2007 summit with then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il by offering to surrender the western maritime border with the North.

Analysis of CCTV footage in the NAK building and log-on records of the Roh government's digital management system will be included in the investigation, prosecution officials said, adding that all of the prosecution's work will be recorded by cameras.

The visit comes nearly a month after the ruling Saenuri Party filed complaints with the prosecution office, asking that the investigative authorities find those responsible for the mysterious disappearance.

The Saenuri Party claimed the former Roh administration destroyed the file so as to delete evidence of the then-president's remarks during the summit, while the opposition Democratic Party accused the government of Roh's successor, former President Lee Myung-bak, of tampering with it.

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