SEOUL, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- South Korean lawmakers on Wednesday approved the arrest of a leftist lawmaker of the minor progressive party suspected of plotting a rebellion against the state.
The 300-member parliament gave the nod to the bill aimed at allowing the court to issue an arrest warrant for the leftist lawmaker Lee Seok-ki in a 258-14 vote, with 11 blank ballots, 6 invalid votes and 11 absent. South Korean President Park Geun-hye already consented to the arrest earlier this week.
It was the 12th passage of the arrest motion for a sitting member of the parliament in the country's history, and marked the first time that an incumbent lawmaker is allowed to be detained on rebellion charges.
Lawmakers in South Korea are immune from arrest while the parliament is in session. The arrest of an incumbent lawmaker can be approved if half of the 300 parliamentary members are present and half of those favor it.
Lee Seok-ki of the left-leaning Unified Progressive Party (UPP) has been accused of conspiring to overthrow the government in violation of the National Security Law. On Aug. 28, investigators raided homes and offices of 10 UPP officials, including Lee, to seize related documents.
The security law, which was enacted in 1948 to fight against communism, bans any activity to prepare, conspire or instigates a rebellion against the state. Three UPP officials have been under detention for questioning on rebellion charges.
Lee and some UPP officials have been accused by the country's spy agency of plotting an armed revolt in case of war breaking out with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
According to tape-recording transcripts secured by the National Intelligence Service (NIS), Lee and his party officials allegedly discussed plans in May to steal weapons from police stations and strike key infrastructures such as communication lines in case of the inter-Korean war.
Lee sternly denied the allegations, calling the scandal as " witch hunt." "For one week from Aug. 28, the NIS staged a medieval witch hunt on hideous charges of rebellion conspiracy by mobilizing all possible conservative media outlets, but it failed to find any single clue to prove the conspiracy," Lee said at the National Assembly headquarters before the voting.
Lee claimed that the transcript was fabricated, saying that the fake rebellion conspiracy would be found not guilty just a few months later.
Lee and his party have insisted that the spy agency sought to divert public attention from the disgraced incident that the NIS intervened in politics by tampering with last year's presidential election.
After two months of probe, prosecutors concluded in mid-June that former NIS chief, who headed the agency for around four years under former President Lee Myung-bak, ordered his agents to conduct online smear campaign against opposition presidential candidates.
The prosecution believed that the former spy chief sought to prevent opposition candidates, who he viewed as "leftist DPRK followers", from seizing power. The spy agents wrote around 1,900 politic postings in cyberspace through hundreds of different user IDs.
Despite the denial, the arrest motion was widely expected to be passed as ruling and opposition parties voiced strong response to the allegations in unison.
Rep. Hwang Woo-yea of the ruling Saenuri Party said before the vote that his party lawmakers will vote on the arrest motion with a firm resolution, while the main opposition party chairman Kim Han-gil said that his party will handle the bill by the rules.