Ex-intel chief in South Korea found dead in possible suicide

In this Dec. 3, 2018 photo, former Defense Security Command head Gen. Lee Jae-su, center, arrives for a court hearing on his arrest warrant on charges of the illegal surveillance of families of people killed in a 2014 ferry sinking, at the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul, South Korea. Lee was found dead on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018, police said, in a suspected suicide. (Lee Ji-eun/Yonhap via AP)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A former South Korean military intelligence chief was found dead on Friday, police said, in a suspected suicide.

Former Defense Security Command head Lee Jae-su was being investigated by state prosecutors for allegedly ordering the illegal surveillance of families of people killed in a 2014 ferry sinking. Lee, a retired three-star general, had denied the allegation.

The disaster killed more than 300 people, mostly high school students, and touched off widespread criticism of then President Park Geun-hye. She was eventually ousted from office over a corruption scandal in March 2017.

Police said Lee's body was found near a Seoul building on Friday.

Yonhap news agency said Lee appeared to have jumped to his death and that a suicide note was found.

The Defense Ministry had no immediate comment.

South Korea has one of the highest suicide rates among developed countries. A string of business executives, K-pop stars and other celebrities have killed themselves in recent years. In July, an opposition lawmaker embroiled in a corruption case, Roh Hoe-chan, leapt to his death.

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