Probe into top prosecutor expected to kick off next month: sources

SEOUL, Sept. 17 (Yonhap) -- An internal inspection into the nation's embattled top prosecutor, who offered to quit over allegations of having an illegitimate son, is expected to kick off sometime next month, legal sources said Tuesday.

Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn on Friday ordered the ministry to "reveal the truth" about a media report that Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook fathered a son through an extramarital affair in 2002.

Minutes after the order, Chae tendered his resignation, saying that while he denies the allegations, they still would make it difficult for him to carry out his duties as chief prosecutor. President Park Geun-hye has yet to accept his resignation.

A nine-member independent committee, including eight veteran lawyers, is expected to hold its first meeting either on Sept. 30 or early next month, they said. The committee then will review whether the inspection is needed and report the result directly to Justice Minister Hwang, they added.

The ministry will then launch a formal inspection into Chae, they said, adding that the date is expected to be sometime early or mid next month.

However, many express doubts over the effectiveness of the inspection as the ministry cannot force Chae or the child's mother to take a DNA test. Also, Chae, who has not shown up for work two days in a row, repeatedly said that he will not cooperate with the inspection.

Justice Minister Hwang's order, the first of its kind regarding an incumbent top prosecutor, came amid the prosecution's full-fledged investigation into an election meddling scandal.

The scandal centers around allegations that the state-run National Intelligence Service attempted to influence last December's presidential election in favor of the ruling party.

The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) and some critics argue that Chae has been forced to quit for aggressively pursuing the probe. They further claim that Chae's departure is part of an attempt to blunt the probe.

President Park Geun-hye, during a meeting with the DP chief on Monday, flatly dismissed the allegations, saying the case is only about his ethical standards.

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