The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered retrials for former President Park Geun-hye, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong and Park’s confidante Choi Soon-sil.
The top court ruled that the ruling in Park’s appeal trial was unlawful as the lower court had not considered the bribery charge separately from other crimes of which she was convicted.
Supreme Court justices pass ruling on the cases on Thursday. Yonhap
Park had been sentenced to a 25-year prison term, with 20 billion won ($16.4 million) in fines for various forms of corruption, including abuse of power and taking bribes from businesses.
According to the Public Official Election Act, sentences for elected officials convicted of bribery must be decided separately from sentences for other crimes.
In Lee’s case, the Supreme Court rejected the lower court’s ruling, which recognized as bribes only a portion of the funds exchanged between Samsung Group and Park and her confidante.
Lee had been sentenced to a 30-month jail term, stayed for four years.
At Lee’s appeal trial, the court recognized as bribes only 3.6 billion won provided by Samsung to cover the costs of horse riding activities for Choi’s daughter, Chung Yoo-ra. In its ruling, the lower court did not recognize as bribes 3.4 billion won provided by Samsung to buy the horses Chung rode, or the 1.6 billion won in donations to sports foundations operated by Choi and her relatives.
Choi was found guilty of using her influence over Park to receive bribes from businesses and to give her daughter unfair advantages in her studies, including college admissions.
The Supreme Court, however, deemed all of the funds to have been provided as bribes.
With the Supreme Court recognizing a larger part of Samsung’s financial support for Choi’s activities as bribes, Lee faces the possibility of receiving a heftier sentence in the retrial.
Along with Park and Lee’s case, the Supreme Court also ordered a retrial for Choi, who earlier received a 20-year jail term with a 20 billion won fine.
The National Assembly impeached Park in December 2016. The Constitutional Court upheld the impeachment decision in March 2017, removing Park from office about a year before her five-year term was to come to an end.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org