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(LEAD) Prosecutors demand 9 years in prison for Samsung heir in retrial of bribery case

All News 17:25 December 30, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with details from 3rd para)

SEOUL, Dec. 30 (Yonhap) -- Prosecutors on Wednesday demanded nine years in prison for Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong in a retrial of a bribery case involving former President Park Geun-hye.

Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., faces charges of bribing the former president's longtime friend, Choi Soon-sil, in order to get government help in succeeding his father and securing control of Samsung Group.

Lee Jae-yong (C), vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., arrives at the Seoul High Court in southern Seoul on Dec. 30, 2020, to attend a hearing of a retrial of a bribery case involving former President Park Geun-hye. (Yonhap)

"Samsung is a group with overwhelming power, to the extent that people say our nation's businesses are either Samsung or non-Samsung," the prosecutors' statement, read at the Seoul High Court, said. "For our society's wholesome development, Samsung's position is such that it should demonstrate a firm stance against corruption and set an example."

Moreover, Samsung has tried to evade responsibility, the prosecutors said.

Lee was initially sentenced to five years in prison in 2017 but freed the following year after an appellate court reduced the term to 2 1/2 years, suspended for four years.

Prosecutors accused Lee of giving 29.8 billion won (US$27.4 million) worth of bribes and promising 21.3 billion won more.

In the initial ruling, Lee was found guilty of providing 7.2 billion won in support for Choi's daughter's equestrian training and a 1.6 billion-won donation to a sports foundation run by Choi's family.

The appellate court partially acquitted him of those charges and reduced the sentence.

In August 2019, however, the Supreme Court overturned the ruling, saying the 3.4 billion won used to purchase horses for Choi's daughter and the donation to the sports foundation should be considered bribes and sent the case back to the Seoul High Court for reconsideration.

In both the first and second trials, prosecutors had demanded 12 years in prison for Lee.

They said they lowered the term to nine years considering that some of the charges had been dismissed by the Supreme Court.

hague@yna.co.kr
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