South Korea’s top court orders retrial for ex-president Park
Robie de Guzman • November 28, 2019 • 576
Seoul – South Korea’s top court on Thursday ordered a retrial for former president Park Geun-hye for illegally accepting state funds after a lower court acquitted her of bribery and embezzlement.
In a separate trial to the famous “Korean Rasputin” corruption case, Park, the country’s first female president, was sentenced in July 2018 to six years in prison for illegally taking money from the National Intelligence Service (NIS).
The Supreme Court has now ordered the Seoul High Court to retry the case after an appeals court reduced her sentence from six to five years in prison by acquitting her of part of the state fund loss charge and applying a charge of embezzlement instead, the top court said in a statement.
The Supreme Court said the lower courts’ decisions to acquit Park of state fund loss and bribery charges were wrong as legal principles had been misunderstood and that she should be seen as guilty.
Park, 67, was indicted in January 2018 on charges of accepting around 3.5 billion won (about $3 million) from three NIS spy agency chiefs.
By then, the former president was already on trial for the Rasputin (Park’s confidante Choi Soon-sil) case, on account of which she was removed from office in March 2017 and subsequently sentenced to 25 years in prison.
However, this summer, the Supreme Court ordered a retrial of that case too, due to a series of technicalities.
As the two prison sentences apply consecutively, Park could be nearly 100 by the time she is set to be released.
The corruption scandals involving Park and also implicating prominent businessmen such as Samsung’s de facto leader Lee Jae-yong sparked mass protests in South Korea between 2016 and 2017 and shook the foundations of the political and economic order of the Asian country.
Conservative Park has been in custody since Mar. 2017 and is the first democratically elected South Korean head of state to have been impeached. Her dismissal led to early elections, which the liberal Moon-Jae-in won.
Choi was the alleged mastermind of the scandal that rocked South Korea and was sentenced to 20 years in prison in Feb. 2018 and ordered to pay a multi-million-dollar fine. EFE-EPA
One of South Korea’s most prominent elected officials, the longtime mayor of its capital, was found dead, police said on Friday (July 10), after he was reported missing by his daughter amid a criminal probe of alleged impropriety.
After a search involving hundreds of police, Mayor Park Won-soon’s body was found at Mt Bugak in northern Seoul around midnight, near where his phone signal had last been detected, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said.
It did not give a cause of death. There was no sign of foul play although a detailed investigation would be needed, police official Choi Ik-soo told reporters at a televised briefing at the scene.
The Yonhap news agency said a former secretary of Park had filed a complaint on Wednesday over alleged incidents of sexual harassment.
Choi said an investigation was under way after a criminal complaint had been lodged against Park, without elaborating.
Park’s daughter reported him missing at 5:17 p.m. (0817 GMT) and said his phone was off and that he had left a message “like a will,” Yonhap reported. (Reuters)
(Production: Kim Hong-Ji, Hyunyoung Yi, Minwoo Park)
United States Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun held a meeting with South Korea’s top security adviser on Thursday (July 9) before heading off to Japan in a trip overshadowed by stalled denuclearisation talks with North Korea.
According to Seoul’s presidential office, Biegun met with Suh Hoon, a former spy chief, and discussed the North’s recent movement and ways to foster peace on the Korean peninsula. Suh said he “highly appreciated” the U.S. envoy’s efforts to resume talks with North Korea.
North Korea has said it has no intention of sitting down again with the United States, though U.S. President Donald Trump said this week he would be open to another summit with leader Kim Jong Un. (Reuters)
North Korea has no intention to sit down with the United States and urged South Korea to “stop meddling,” a senior diplomat said on Tuesday (July 7), just as a U.S. envoy was due to visit Seoul in an effort to renew stalled nuclear talks with Pyongyang.
Kwon Jong Gun, director general for U.S. affairs at Pyongyang’s foreign ministry, accused South Korea of misinterpreting Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui’s earlier statement dismissing an “untimely rumor” about another summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.
Choe said on Saturday (July 4) that North Korea does not feel the need for a new summit, days after South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who had offered to mediate between Kim and Trump, suggested the two leaders meet again before the U.S. elections in November.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, who led the talks with the North Koreans, was due to arrive in Seoul late on Tuesday for talks with Seoul officials over ways to revive the negotiations. (Reuters)
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