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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Korean Brass Under Probe For '79 Coup

SEOUL -- A day after jailing a former president, South Korean prosecutors Monday began questioning ex-army generals suspected of helping him seize power in a coup 16 years ago.

The move is the latest in a series of efforts by President Kim Young-sam, a former dissident, to sever ties with his military-backed predecessors. South Korea's faction-ridden politics could be headed for a major reorganization as a result.

Former Defense Minister Roh Jae-hyon was among several ex-army leaders called in Monday. Prosecutors said more former generals would be summoned this week.

Chun Doo-hwan, who was president in 1980-88, was arrested Sunday on charges of violating the military criminal code by staging an internal coup in 1979 that led him to power.

The coup was followed by a savage crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in the southern city of Kwangju several months later. At least 240 people were killed and more than 1,800 others injured in the bloodiest civil uprising in South Korea's modern history.

The six-count insurrection charges filed against Chun call for the death penalty, although it is unlikely to be imposed.

Chun's immediate successor, Roh Tae-woo, who also is implicated in the Kwangju massacre, was arrested last month on unrelated charges. He allegedly took bribes from businesses for a $650 million slush fund he operated throughout his 1988-93 term as Korea's chief executive.