Outgoing President Lee Myung-bak is expected to issue a special presidential pardon this week, a senior aide said Sunday, despite opposition from the transition team of his successor Park Geun-hye that it is wrong for an outgoing president to issue pardons for corrupt people.
The justice ministry has recently completed its review of a special pardon proposal and the issue is likely to be tabled at a Cabinet meeting scheduled for Tuesday, the official told Yonhap News Agency.
"What is left is for Lee to make up his mind," the official said.
A day earlier, Park's transition team voiced opposition to the pardon plan, saying the country should break the chain of the practice of issuing special pardons at the end of a president's term and that pardons for corrupt people will anger the public.
South Korean presidents have issued pardons to commemorate important holidays, such as Liberation Day, marking Korea's independence from Japan's colonial rule, or traditional holidays like Lunar New Year's Day. Critics say the practice hurts the rule of law.
Those convicted of small-scale economic crimes are expected to make up the majority of those who would benefit from the possible pardon. But the public focus is on whether the president's close confidants, such as Choi See-joong and Chun Shin-il, would benefit from the measure as well.
Both Choi and Chun, who were convicted of bribery charges last year, gave up on appealing their prison sentences to higher courts last month in a move seen as them getting ready for a special pardon because only those whose sentences are finalized can be eligible for a pardon. (Yonhap News)