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Opposition condemns court's rejection of Samsung heir arrest

All News 10:58 January 19, 2017

By Kang Yoon-seung

SEOUL, Jan. 19 (Yonhap) -- Prominent opposition members on Thursday expressed discontent over the Seoul court's decision to reject an arrest warrant sought for Lee Jae-yong, the heir-apparent of Samsung Group embroiled in the influence-peddling scandal involving President Park Geun-hye.

Earlier in the day, the Seoul Central District Court turned down the request made by an independent counsel on arresting Lee on charges of bribery, embezzlement and perjury.

"It is hard to understand," Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said through a social media channel. "Although its impact on the national economy is crucial, it is more important to set justice straight."

The Seoul mayor said the independent counsel should reapply for the warrant to root out corruption and reform local conglomerates.

Local conglomerates have been under fire for being linked to the scandal, where Park's confidante Choi Soon-sil is accused of exerting influence on state affairs for personal benefit. She is also charged with colluding with the president to extort money from local businesses.

Lee allegedly gave or promised some 43 billion won (US$36.3 million) worth of bribes to Choi, who has been taken into custody, in return for the state-run pension fund's backing of a merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015.

Rep. Park Young-sun of the Democratic Party said the court's decision indicates Samsung stands at the peak of the country's power structure during an interview with CBS Radio.

The lawmaker also expressed concern that the decision will also adversely impact the independent counsel's investigation going forward. Investigators said they planned to check other conglomerates who had donated money to two non-profit organizations that was created with Park's backing and linked to Choi.

Both the president, who was impeached by parliament on Dec. 9 in regards to the scandal, and Choi have refuted all allegations raised and even accused the prosecution of concocting crimes that did not exist.

The chief executive has vowed to prove her innocence in court.

Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., walks out of a detention center south of Seoul on Jan. 19, 2017, after a local court rejected an arrest warrant sought for him. Three days ago, the special prosecutor requested the warrant for Samsung's de facto leader on bribery and other charges in connection with the scandal that has led to President Park Geun-hye's impeachment. (Yonhap)


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