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李대통령, 설 특별사면 강행

이명박대통령은 29 최시중 전 방송통신위원장, 천신일 세중나모투어 회장, 박희태 전 국회의장 등 최측근을 포함한 55명에 대한 특별사면을 감행했다.

경제계 인사로는 이명박대통령의 사돈인 효성가의 조현준 효성섬유 PG장이 포함됐다.

이명박대통령은 이날 국무회의에서 즉석안건으로 상정된 특별사면 안건을 의결하며 “우리 정부 출범시 사면권을 남용하지 않을 것이고, 재임 중 발생한 권력형 비리에 대한 사면은 하지 않겠다고 발표한 적이 있다. 이번 사면도 그 원칙에 입각해서 실시했다”라 했다고박정하 청와대 대변인이 전했다.

특별사면 대상에는 용산사건 관련자 5명, 불우•외국인 수형자 8명도 포함되었지만 여야는 사면권을 남용해 측근 봐주기라며 강력히 비난했다.

박근혜 대통령 특별사면 강행에 대해 강한 유감을 표시했다.

윤창중 인수위 대변인은 브리핑을 통해 "이번 특사 조치는 대단히 유감스럽다"며 "부정부패와 비리관련자들에 대해 사면을 강행한 것은 국민적 지탄을 받을 것"이라고 말했습니다.

하지만 정성호 민주당 수석대변인은 “몇 마디 말로 반대했지만 결국 수수방관하며 특별사면을 사실상 방치한 박근혜 당선자도 일말의 책임을 면치 못할 것이다”라며 박근혜 대통령의 일부 책임론도 이어갔다. (코리아헤럴드)

<관련 영문 기사>

Presidential pardon triggers heavy fire from all corners 

By Choi He-suk 

Outgoing President Lee Myung-bak issued special pardons to 55 convicted criminals including some of his closest associates on Tuesday, inciting heavy criticism from his successor Park Geun-hye’s transition team and all political parties.

Those granted pardons include former Korea Communications Commission chief Choi See-joong and businessman Chun Shin-il of Sejoong Namo Tour. The longtime confidants of Lee were serving prison terms on bribery charges.

Former National Assembly Speaker Park Hee-tae and former presidential secretary for political affairs Kim Hyo-jae, who were serving suspended sentences for their involvement in the vote-buying scheme employed during the Grand National Party leadership race in 2008, were also pardoned.

Choi and Park are also members of the so-called “group of six” who played critical roles in Lee’s election campaign in 2007.

The list also includes Cho Hyun-joon of Hyosung Group, who is a cousin to the husband of Lee’s youngest daughter. Last year Cho received a suspended sentence of two years for using company funds to purchase private real estate in the U.S.

Although a number of people with no connections to power or money are included among the 55, the political parties unanimously condemned the president for using his authority to “look after his own.” Pardoned individuals without power or financial connections include five individuals imprisoned for their involvement in a violent protest in Yongsan, Seoul, which resulted in the death of five protesters and a police officer, and eight foreign nationals.

“Going ahead with the special pardon against the strong disapproval of the people and public sentiment is an abuse of the prerogative of mercy, and against legal justice,” Saenuri Party spokesman Lee Sang-il said.

“The Saenuri Party can’t but express strong resentment as the special pardons are opposed to the public’s desire for political reform.”

Similar sentiments were echoed by the main opposition Democratic United Party, whose floor spokesperson Rep. Lee Un-ju referred to the developments as “the pinnacle of abuse of power” that will be “judged by history.”

Meanwhile, the minor opposition parties used stronger words to attack Cheong Wa Dae. With the far-left Unified Progressive Party calling Lee “a truly bad president who angers the public to the end,” the Progressive Justice Party went further, saying, “The extensive corruption that took place during the past five years foretell a trip to prison for President Lee Myung-bak.“

President-elect Park Geun-hye’s chief spokesman Yoon Chang-joong also criticized the move, saying that pardoning those responsible for corruption will incite public condemnation. Yoon also said that the president will have to bear “all responsibility,” emphasizing the president-elect’s lack of involvement.

While Park expressed disapproval for the pardon plans through her spokespeople, the opposition party had called on her to take direct actions to prevent the president from going ahead with it.

“The president-elect, who in effect neglected (the pardon plans) opposing it with only a few words, will not be able to avoid taking some responsibility,” Democratic United Party chief spokesman Rep. Jung Sung-ho said.

For its part, the presidential office defended the development as being in accordance to “law and principle.”

“(I) announced that the prerogative of mercy will not be abused, and that pardons will not be issued for corruption cases linked to when the administration was launched. The pardons were granted based on those principles,” President Lee was quoted as saying by Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Jeong-ha.

The spokesman also said that the president-elect “will be understanding” despite her earlier disapproval, as the move was made according to proper procedure.