Lee Byung-kee, the former presidential chief of staff under the Park Geun-hye administration, was acquitted Wednesday on charges of obstructing lawmakers' probe into the cause of the Sewol ferry disaster in 2014.
The Seoul Central District Court ruling indicated that the allegations against Lee's involvement in the obstruction lacked evidence.
Lee and eight other officials were indicted in May 2020 on charges of hindering the probe as lawmakers tried to look into the whereabouts of then President Park at the time of the ferry rescue mission. The probe was aimed at proving the government's bungled response to the human-made disaster.
The sinking of the Sewol ferry left 304 dead or missing in April 2014 in the sea off the southwestern coast of Korea. Most of the casualties were high school students on a school trip to Jeju Island.