South Korean ex-president Lee ordered back to jail for 17 years

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 30 Oct 2020

Former South Korean president Lee Myung Bak was ordered back to prison yesterday as the country's Supreme Court upheld a 17-year jail term for bribery and embezzlement offenses.

The conservative Lee, who served as president from 2008 to 2013, had been out on bail awaiting the ruling.

The ruling is not subject to further appeal. Aged 78, Lee is likely to die in prison unless he receives a presidential pardon.

Police were seen at his Seoul home to take him back to prison but he requested a delay, citing health reasons. Thus, he will be taken into custody on Monday.

That will mean all four of South Korea's living former presidents are either behind bars or have served jail terms - often due to investigations carried out under the rule of political rivals.

The Supreme Court yesterday upheld his conviction for embezzling 25.2 billion won (HK$172.22 million) and accepting bribes totaling 9.4 billion won.

Lee is also subject to a 13-billion-won fine and must forfeit assets of 5.7 billion won.

Lee's conservative successor Park Geun Hye is currently serving 20 years in jail for bribery and abuse of power after being ousted in 2017 over a corruption scandal that prompted massive street protests.

Another former leader, liberal Roh Moo Hyun, took his own life after being questioned in a corruption probe involving his family - an inquiry that took place during his presidency.

Roh was the political mentor of incumbent President Moon Jae In.

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