South Korea’s top court on Thursday upheld a lower court’s ruling to sentence a former police chief to eight months in jail for making defamatory remarks against late President Roh Moo-hyun.
Former National Police Agency head Cho Hyun-oh was found guilty of defamation for saying in 2010 that Roh committed suicide a day after investigators found his slush funds under a borrowed-name account.
The Supreme Court rejected the defendant’s final appeal against a verdict given by two lower courts, saying he tarnished Roh’s reputation by spreading false information without firm evidence.
Court records show that Cho commented on the motive of the late president’s suicide while in office in 2010, claiming that “a huge slush fund under Roh’s name was revealed a day before his death.” He also claimed that then first lady Kwon Yang-sook “asked the Democratic Party for a favor to avoid an investigation by prosecutors.”
Cho was initially detained after receiving a 10-month prison term in a district court, but was released on bail eight days after his imprisonment.
An appeals court reduced Cho’s sentence to eight months but put him in jail again after canceling his bail.
About a year after leaving office, Roh died after jumping off a cliff behind his retirement home in May 2009, in the middle of a prosecutorial investigation over illicit funds allegedly accepted by some of his family members.
The prosecution closed Roh’s case after his suicide. Roh’s family later filed a suit against Cho for defamation.
By Suk Gee-hyun (email@example.com