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Arrest warrant sought for Kia Tigers manager over bribery charges

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Prosecutors have sought arrest warrants for the sitting manager and a former general manager of the Kia Tigers professional baseball team, both on bribery charges, officials said Monday.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors office filed for the warrants last Wednesday to arrest manager Kim Jong-kook and former general manager Jang Jung-suk, the officials said.

The prosecution has been looking into suspicions that Jang, while serving as the team’s general manager, asked a free agent player for a kickback during negotiations with him. Jang was fired from the team last year.

During the investigation, prosecutors confirmed additional charges against Jang and the sitting manager that they took tens of millions of won and 100 million won (US$74,878) from a coffee chain, respectively, in return for helping the chain sign a sponsorship deal with the Kia Tigers.

In light of the prosecution’s decision to seek a warrant for Kim, the Tigers terminated their deal with Kim on Monday, some 24 hours after first suspending him from duties.

The Tigers had said Sunday that they would first monitor the progress of the investigation before determining Kim’s status, but then went ahead and cut ties with the skipper. The move came on the eve of the Tigers’ scheduled departure for Australia to open spring training.

Kim became the Tigers manager in December 2021, after having played his entire 14-year career with the Tigers and served as a coach for the club for another decade. He’d signed for three years worth 1.05 billion won, including a signing bonus of 300 million won.

The Tigers went 70-73-1 (wins-losses-ties) in Kim’s first season and made it to the wild card game, where they lost to the KT Wiz. In 2023, the Tigers fell one game short of the final postseason spot with a record of 73-69-2.

The Seoul Central District Court is scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday to determine whether to grant the warrant requests.

It marks the first arrest warrant sought for a sitting professional baseball team manager on corruption suspicions.

Previously, Kim Jin-young, manager of the now-disbanded Sammi Superstars, was arrested in 1983 on charges of assaulting an umpire during a game, becoming the first-ever sitting professional baseball team manager to be arrested. (Yonhap)

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