SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – Former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun sent his bodyguard on an errand to a nearby temple just before jumping to his death last weekend, police said Wednesday.

Roh died Saturday after throwing himself off a rocky cliff that overlooks his home in the village of Bongha, southeast of Seoul. The bodyguard initially told police that he was with Roh on Owl’s Rock for some 25 minutes before the former president suddenly jumped.

However, police later determined that Roh had sent his bodyguard to a nearby temple to ask for some information, at which point the ex-leader jumped to his death, chief investigator Lee No-gu told reporters, according to his office.

A temple official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity due to the ongoing police investigation said the bodyguard arrived at Bonghwasan Temple to ask whether the general director was there, as Roh requested.

The bodyguard left Roh’s side around 6:14 a.m. He returned three minutes later and discovered Roh at the bottom of the cliff at 6:45 a.m., Lee told reporters.

The guard and several other security personnel brought Roh to a nearby hospital. He was transferred to a university hospital and declared dead.

The bodyguard told police that he initially lied out of shock and a sense of guilt for not protecting Roh, Lee said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of South Koreans paid their respects at mourning sites across the country as they prepared to bid farewell to the late president in a “people’s funeral” at an ancient royal palace in Seoul on Friday.

Roh’s suicide, just 15 months after he left office, came as he and his family faced intense questioning about $6 million given to the Rohs during his presidency by a businessman implicated in a number of bribery scandals.

The allegations tarnished the image of Roh, who prided himself on being a “clean” politician in a country with a long history of corruption.


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