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Ruling party leader loses face in family’s drug case

Ruling Saenuri Party chief Rep. Kim Moo-sung found himself in unexpected controversy as the opposition on Friday dup up a drug case involving his son-in-law, who was recently found to have been given a suspended sentence for drug abuse.

News reports said the 32-year-old entrepreneur, who married Kim’s daughter last month, was given a three-year suspended sentence because he had no criminal record. The prosecutors did not file an appeal. 

The revelation prompted the main opposition New Political Alliance for Democracy lawmakers to claim the judiciary branch was unjustly lenient toward the leader of the ruling party.

The Supreme Court’s punishment standard stipulates that the sentence for habitual abuse of drugs should range from four years to nine years and six months.

They also raised questions over the prosecutors seeking below-standard prison terms and not filing an appeal.

Rep. Kim Moo-sung of the ruling Saenuri Party. Yonhap
Rep. Kim Moo-sung of the ruling Saenuri Party. Yonhap

“I can’t buy the prosecutors’ argument that they followed the punishment standards in seeking the sentence,” said NPAD lawmaker Rep. Lim Nae-hyun, who has served as a prosecutor in drug-related cases.

“The prosecutors didn’t even file an appeal when (the defendant’s) accomplice was jailed without suspension,” said Lim.

Faced with NPAD lawmakers’ flurry of criticism, Minister of the Justice Kim Hyun-woong came forward to refute the allegation, saying the prosecutors’ appeal would be filed only when the court’s sentenced term is less than half of what the prosecutors sought.

The court that handled the case also shunned the NPAD claims. Seoul Eastern District Court said in a statement that the court’s punishment standard is not legally binding and the below-standard sentence is often handed down if the violators purchased drugs for personal use, not for distribution.

Kim, for his part, denied the allegation that he was involved in the court’s decision and claimed he had not known the situation until after the verdict.

“I don’t think I have ever seen a judge who is more lenient toward politicians’ families. In this day and age, judges are more likely to give them a more severe punishment,” said Kim.

By Yeo Jun-suk  (jasonyeo@heraldcorp.com)

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