South Korea’s Ruling Party Seeks to Expel Arrested Lawmaker

South Korea’s ruling party is seeking to expel an opposition lawmaker from parliament after he was arrested on suspicion of leading a plot to overthrow the government.

The ruling Saenuri Party, which has 153 seats in the 300-member National Assembly, submitted a motion today seeking to remove Lee Seok Ki, its spokesman Yoo Il Ho said by phone. Expelling Lee would require approval from two thirds of lawmakers, Yoo said.

Lee was arrested last night on suspicion of leading a May meeting where members of his United Progressive Party talked about stealing firearms and destroying infrastructure in the South in the event of war with North Korea. During his transfer to a jail after a court issued an arrest warrant for him, Lee shouted to reporters that the allegation was a “complete fabrication.”

Lee was sentenced to two and a half years in prison in 2003 for his role in a pro-North Korean organization. He was later pardoned. South Korean lawmakers tried and failed last year to oust him from parliament after his own party found irregularities in its primaries.

Earlier this week, the National Assembly, in which the UPP has six seats, voted to lift Lee’s immunity to clear the way for the National Intelligence Service and prosecutors to take him into custody for questioning.

“We’re open to discussing Saenuri’s motion,” Lee Un Ju, a spokeswoman for the main opposition Democratic Party, which has 127 seats, said by phone. “But we would first like to see how much of the allegation is proved by the judicial authorities.”

South and North Korea share a heavily armed border and remain technically at war after their 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce.

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