S. Korea ex-President indicted over graft charges

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Seoul, April 9 (IANS) Prosecutors indicted former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Monday over a string of corruption charges, including taking millions of dollars in bribes, making him the country’s fourth former leader to face trial.

Lee, President from 2008-2013, had been in pre-trial detention since his arrest in March on charges of bribery, abuse of power, embezzlement and other irregularities, Yonhap news agency reported.

He’s the fourth former President to be arrested and put on trial after former Presidents Chun Doo-hwan, Roh Tae-woo and Park Geun-hye. The indictment came days after Park was sentenced to 24 years in prison for corruption.

Prosecutors indicted Lee with about 16 counts of corruption. He was accused of taking bribes totalling about 11.1 billion won ($10.4 million), including some 700 million won from the state intelligence service and $5.85 million in lawsuit expenses Samsung Electronics paid on behalf of a car parts firm Lee is suspected of owning.

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Other charges included tax evasion, abuse of power, breach of trust, illegally shipping 3,402 presidential documents out of the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae and stashing them at a private building and a violation of the election law.

Lee has denied most of the charges against him and has refused to meet with prosecutors visiting him at his detention centre for additional questioning.

Lee could be sentenced to between 11 years in prison and life imprisonment if convicted. Law experts said Lee could get at least 20 years in prison if he’s convicted of the charges regarding using his presidential powers for personal gain.

“In theory, the nature of the crime is very bad because this bribe-taking was committed in his capacity as President. In addition, it could also be recognized that the money was used in pursuit of private gain. Therefore, there is a possibility of a sentence ranging from 20 years in prison up to life imprisonment,” said a district court judge.

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“Nonetheless, it’s always possible that the prosecutors’ case is overturned during the trial,” he said.



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