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Lee becomes fourth ex-president to be arrested for corruption

All Headlines 23:45 March 22, 2018

SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- Lee Myung-bak on Thursday became South Korea's fourth former president to be arrested as a result of a criminal investigation, in a stark reminder of the nation's corruption-prone political elites.

The Seoul Central District Court issued the arrest warrant for Lee, who led South Korea from 2008-2013, on bribery, embezzlement, tax evasion and other charges.

This image shows former President Lee Myung-bak. (Yonhap)

The first ex-leader to be arrested was Roh Tae-woo, who led the country from 1988-93. He was detained 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, including mutiny in connection with a military coup on Dec. 12, 1979, and a bloody crackdown on a pro-democracy movement in the southwestern city of Gwangju, 320 kilometers south of Seoul, on May 18, 1980.

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 (US243 million) in forfeitures. But then-President Kim Young-sam pardoned him in December 1997 under his campaign of "grand national harmony."

The second former president arrested 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 1979 coup after former President Park Chung-hee was assassinated by his own intelligence chief in October the same year.

Chun rejected the prosecution's summons and denounced its investigation as "politically driven." He then went down to his hometown of Hapcheon, 350 kilometers south of Seoul. But prosecutors followed and arrested him there on Dec. 3, 1995.

Later, he 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 into him was halted after he committed suicide on May 23 of the same year. Roh ran the country from 2003-2008.

The most recent case is former President Park Geun-hye. Park was detained on March 31 last year for a series of corruption charges, including bribery, abuse of power and the leaking of state secrets. She was dismissed by the Constitutional Court 21 days earlier.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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