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Samsung heir to be released on parole

All News 18:53 August 09, 2021

SEOUL, Aug. 9 (Yonhap) -- The justice ministry said Monday it will release jailed Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong on parole later this week, a decision fiercely protested by civic groups and welcomed by Samsung Group and other business leaders.

Justice Minister Park Beom-kye announced that Lee will be released from prison on Friday in celebration of the Aug. 15 Liberation Day.

The South Korean government has used the national holiday to grant paroles or special presidential pardons for national unity.

The decision was made after an hourslong meeting by the ministry's parole committee to review inmates, including Lee, who have completed the requirements for parole eligibility after serving 60 percent of their prison terms.

The vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co. has been serving time since he was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison by the Seoul High Court on Jan. 18 in a retrial of a bribery case involving former President Park Geun-hye.

The possibility of parole for Lee has been hotly debated recently. Earlier this month, a large number of civic groups issued a joint statement, opposing Lee's parole and saying that such a decision would run counter to the anti-corruption drive of the Moon Jae-in government.

They also claimed that Lee's parole could affect the course of separate ongoing trials over the controversial merger of two Samsung affiliates and the vice chairman's allegedly illegal use of propofol, an anesthesia-inducing medication.

But an opinion survey conducted in July showed that a vast majority -- more than 70 percent -- of 1,003 respondents said they were in favor of parole of the jailed de facto leader of Samsung Group.

Samsung Group and the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) have demanded that Lee be released on parole or granted a presidential pardon to help him focus on managing the country's biggest conglomerate.

This file photo shows Samsung Electronics Co. Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong (C) leaving the Seoul High Court on Nov. 9, 2020, after attending a hearing on his bribery scandal. (Yonhap)


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