Samsung heir absent from bribery retrial due to father’s funeral

(IANS) Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong did not attend his retrial due to his father’s funeral on Monday, in a massive bribery scandal that led to the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye.

Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, had asked the Seoul High Court to allow his absence from the retrial after his father Lee Kun-hee died Sunday.

The retrial resumed as the Supreme Court last month struck down the complaint lodged by the prosecution in January to replace the judges of the court who it criticized for ruling favorably for the defendant.

Earlier this month, the appellate court ordered Lee to appear in court, contrary to its customary practice in which a defendant is not required to attend a preparatory session for an upcoming trial, reports Yonhap news agency.

The court initially planned to hold the final arguments on December 14 but decided to postpone it to a later date as the prosecution strongly protested against the plan.

The next hearing is slated for November 9.

The de facto leader of the country’s top conglomerate was initially sentenced to five years in jail in 2017 for bribing a longtime friend of former President Park as he sought the government’s help in succeeding his father and securing control of Samsung Group.

He was freed a year later after the appeals court reduced the term to 2 1/2 years, suspended for four years, dismissing most of the bribery charges against him.

The top court, however, sent the case back to a lower court in August last year for retrial, saying that Lee should be found guilty of providing about $4.1 million more worth of bribes to the president’s friend Choi Soon-sil, charges excluded from the previous court ruling.

The court said the three horses, worth $2.8 million, that Samsung gifted to Choi should be considered as bribes.

The earlier ruling had excluded them from bribery charges given that Samsung didn’t give Choi ownership of the horses.

The court on Monday asked the prosecution to recommend by Thursday an outside expert who will participate in evaluating the activities of the independent compliance committee of Samsung Group, which was launched in February to monitor whether the group’s corporate actions comply with laws and ethics.

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