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Appeals court lowers sentence for judge in bribery case

All Headlines 14:28 July 06, 2017

SEOUL, July 6 (Yonhap) -- A Seoul appellate court on Thursday mitigated the sentence for a senior judge accused of bribery in a high-profile judiciary lobbying scandal.

Kim Soo-chun, a sitting judge on the Incheon District Court, was indicted in September for receiving some 180 million won (US$156,114) in kickbacks from Jung Woon-ho, then head of a local midsized cosmetics chain, to exert influence in Jung's favor on trials he had faced over illegal overseas gambling and business deals. Kim was sentenced to seven years in prison by the lower court.

But the higher court cleared him on part of the charges and commuted the sentence to five years in jail, saying that his role in the solicitation was not directly related to his job.

The appeals court judged that Kim's role was as a middleman to arrange the solicitation for Jung as he was not in charge of the trials. Under the local criminal law, taking bribes is punishable by a much heavier sentence when it directly relates to the defendant's job

However, the court said he should still be held accountable for the misdeed and law violation that is too grave to be reconsidered.

"Regardless of whether the cases belonged to the defendant or someone else, it should not and cannot happen under any circumstances. It's beyond imagination for any judge," Judge Cho Young-chul noted.

The court ordered him to forfeit some 126 million won and a Range Rover SUV, one of the gifts from Jung.

Kim tendered his resignation, but it was rejected by the Supreme Court in accordance with rules that a resignation from a judge under investigation is not acceptable. He has been suspended from his post for one year, the highest level of disciplinary measure that can be brought upon the judiciary.

elly@yna.co.kr
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