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Lee is fifth ex-president to face prosecution investigation

All Headlines 06:51 March 14, 2018

SEOUL, March 14 (Yonhap) -- Lee Myung-bak, who was president from 2008 to 2013, is South Korea's fifth former leader to face a prosecution investigation.

Lee is set to appear at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office early Wednesday for questioning over a string of corruption allegations that include bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.

The probe into Lee comes only about a year after the prosecution wrapped up its investigation into a massive influence-peddling case involving Lee's successor, Park Geun-hye.

Park was arrested in late March last year upon her ousting from office and indicted for conspiring with her friend Choi Soon-sil to extort 59.2 billion won (US$52 million) from dozens of large conglomerates including Samsung. She is due to face her verdict early next month. Prosecutors have demanded a 30-year jail term.

The first former president to be arrested was Roh Tae-woo, who led the country from 1988 to 1993. He was arrested on Nov. 16, 1995, on charges of creating massive slush funds with bribes from local conglomerates, such as the now-defunct Daewoo Group.

Later in the year, Roh faced additional charges of mutiny for staging a military coup on Dec. 12, 1979, after former President Park Chung-hee was assassinated by his own intelligence chief in October of the same year.

In April 1997, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court's decision to sentence Roh to 17 years in jail and have him pay 262.8 billion won (US235 million) in forfeitures. But then-President Kim Young-sam pardoned him in December 1997 as part of his "grand national harmony" campaign.

The second president put behind bars was Roh's predecessor, Chun Doo-hwan, who led the country from 1980-1988.

Chun was told to appear for questioning on Dec. 2, 1995, over charges that he masterminded the military coup in 1979 and ordered a bloody crackdown on a pro-democracy movement in the southwestern city of Gwangju, 320 kilometers south of Seoul, on May 18, 1980.

Chun rejected the prosecution's summons and denounced its investigation as "politically driven." He then went to his hometown of Hapcheon, 350 kilometers south of Seoul, where he was eventually arrested by the prosecution.

Chun faced additional charges of amassing slush funds worth hundreds of billions of won while in office.

In April 1997, the Supreme Court confirmed Chun's sentence of life imprisonment and ordered a forfeiture of 220.5 billion won. Then-President Kim also pardoned Chun in December 1997.

On April 20, 2009, former President Roh Moo-hyun was grilled by the prosecution over a corruption scandal involving his family. But the probe was halted after he committed suicide on May 23 of the same year.

From L to R, this composite photo filed March 13, 2018, shows former South Korean presidents who faced prosecution investigations over corruption and other charges: Roh Tae-woo, Chun Doo-hwan, Roh Moo-hyun and Park Geun-hye. (Yonhap)

elly@yna.co.kr
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