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Arrested Seoul education chief seeks bail

SEOUL, Oct. 2 (Yonhap) -- The Seoul education chief arrested for bribing his rival candidate to win an election has requested that a local court release him on bail, the court said Sunday.

Kwak No-hyun, the elected superintendent of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, was detained on Sept. 10 on charges of giving 200 million won (US$173,761) to Park Myoung-gee, a rival candidate from the same liberal bloc, to get him to drop out of the race for the post in June last year. He was indicted 10 days later.

The detention immediately led to the suspension of Kwak's duties as the education chief, and Im Seung-bin, the vice superintendent, took over as acting superintendent.

According to the Seoul Central District Court, Kwak applied for bail on Friday, asking the court to release and try him without physical detention.

He has strongly denied the charges and maintained his previous stance that the money was not a reward for Park's withdrawal but given only as a gesture of "goodwill" for the professor who had incurred heavy debts from the election campaign.

If the court allows him bail, Kwak would return to his position and maintain his duties until he is convicted of the charges. If convicted, he will be stripped of his post and punished with an imprisonment of less than seven years or a fine of at least 5 million won.

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