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Former South Korean PM attends trial for over bribery

South Korea’s former Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo on Friday made his first public appearance in 140 days since his resignation amid bribery allegations in April, to attend a trial for graft charges at the Seoul Central District Court in southern Seoul.

Lee had been accused of accepting illegal campaign funds worth 30 million won ($28,000) from the late businessman Sung Woan-jong for the 2013 by-elections, on April 4 that year, at his campaign office in Buyeo, South Chungcheong Province. He was indicted without detention in July, about three months after his resignation.

Sung, a construction mogul and former lawmaker, was found dead on April 9 in an apparent suicide at a mountain in northern Seoul. Hours before he committed suicide, he claimed that he had handed illegal funds to Lee, as well as seven other figures, in a phone interview with a local daily.

Lee Wan-koo (Yonhap)
Lee Wan-koo (Yonhap)

Under the Korean law, politicians are banned from accepting contributions of more than 100,000 won.

Lee on Friday denied accusations made by the late Sung at the Seoul Central Court. “Who can believe that someone would hand over illegal funds to another at a crowded campaign office?” he said.

When asked if he indeed meet with Sung on April 4, 2013, Lee said he would clarify the truth in court.

By Claire Lee (