The Seongnam branch of the Suwon District Court is expected to rule at 3 p.m. on Thursday on whether he is guilty of the charges of wrongly committing his estranged brother to a psychiatric hospital, and publicly lying during election campaigns.
The prosecution has demanded a year and half in jail for abuse of authority, and fines of 6 million won each for three charges of election law violation.
Lee denies all the charges, and has appealed to the court to give him “a chance to work.”
Lee was indicted for ordering a health center chief and a psychiatrist to prepare documents to commit his now deceased brother to a mental institution between April and August 2012 while he was the mayor of Seongnam.
He was also indicted on three counts of spreading false information, the first one in denying in a TV debate ahead of last year’s local elections that he tried to put his brother in a psychiatric hospital against his will.
The governor also said during the election campaign that he was wrongly accused of falsely representing himself as prosecutor in 2001, when in fact he was fined 1.5 million won ($1,300) after being found guilty of the act.
He also exaggerated about the profitability of a development project he led in Seongnam, where he first became mayor in 2010.
If Lee receives a sentence heavier than a 1 million won fines, he will be removed as Gyeonggi governor under local government official and election laws.
Article 270 of the Public Official Election Act says: “A trial for an election criminal and his/her accomplice shall proceed promptly in preference to other trials, and the sentencing of the trial shall be made, without fail, within six months after the public prosecution is instituted, in the first instance, and within three months after the judgment on the previous trial is delivered, in the second and the third instances.”
The final ruling on Lee by the Supreme Court, therefore, should be made by November this year, but quite a few election law violation cases are not finalized within the legal deadline.
By Kim So-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)