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(3rd LD) Roh left behind suicide note, family lawyer says

All Headlines 12:05 May 23, 2009

(ATTN: UPDATES with hospital announcement in last three paras)

SEOUL, May 23 (Yonhap) -- Former President Roh Moo-hyun died after falling from a mountainside behind his residence early Saturday morning and left behind a brief suicide note, his lawyer said.

The Pusan National University Hospital, where the former president was rushed to after his fall, announced that Roh arrived at its emergency room at 8:13 a.m. and died at 9:30 a.m. from external head injuries.

Roh had been living in Bonghwa Village, some 450 kilometers south of Seoul.

"Roh left his home at 5:45 a.m. to go hiking. He appears to have jumped from a mountain rock at 6:40 a.m. He was accompanied by a bodyguard at that time," said Moon Jae-in, who had served as presidential chief of staff during the Roh presidency.

"He left behind a brief suicide note," Moon told reporters at a hospital news conference.

Roh, who served as South Korea's president from 2003 to 2008, has been under investigation over allegations that he and his family received at least US$6 million in bribes from a corrupt businessman while in office.

Roh, 62, and his wife, Kwon Yang-sook, were summoned by prosecutors last month to face grueling questioning over the bribery allegations. Prosecutors had said they would soon decide whether to seek an arrest warrant for the former president.

Paek Seung-wan, chief of Pusan National University Hospital, said in the same news conference that Roh died due to a head injury.

"At the time of his arrival at the hospital at 8:23 a.m., he was unconscious and couldn't breathe on his own. A laceration measuring 11 centimeters was found on the front part of his head. Doctors attempted cardiopulmonary resuscitation but suspended it at 8:30 a.m. as he failed to recover," said Paek.

"A brain contusion was also found, but head injury was confirmed as the direct cause of his death. In addition, fractures were found, including in the ribs and pelvis."


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