April 21, 2017 12:01
Ex-presidential aide Jeong Ho-seong will be sentenced on the same day as ex-President Park Geun-hye on charges of handing over confidential government documents to Park's crony Choi Soon-sil at her orders.
The Seoul Central District Court said Thursday it "would not be appropriate" to sentence either Jeong or Park first since they are essentially both charged over the same offense. Jeong is already on trial, and Park's trial starts next month.
Jeong was put on trial in November on charges of handing over 47 classified documents to Choi, and there is a six-month deadline until sentencing if a defendant is being held on remand. That means the court must sentence Jeong by May 20 or let him go home.
A court staffer said, "There is no chance of former president Park's trial ending before May 20, so there is a strong chance that Jeong will be released on bail or freed while he awaits sentencing."
The decision is also expected to impact the timing of the sentencing of other suspects like de facto Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong, who is also on remand awaiting trial for bribing Park. Choi herself was indicted as an accomplice to the ex-president on charges of taking W59.2 billion in bribes from Samsung, Lotte and SK (US$1=W1,139).
Meanwhile, former presidential secretary for economic affairs Cho Won-dong on Thursday testified in the trial of ex-presidential chief of staff Kim Ki-choon, an ancient retainer to the Park family.
Cho said Kim has always stressed "patriotism," by which he seems to have meant loyalty to the Parks rather than the country at large, and reflected that attitude in appointing and sacking government officials. "Those who helped Park during the presidential election campaign were considered patriots, and those who did not were excluded," Cho said.
Kim is accused of spearheading the compilation of a blacklist of artists considered "hostile" to Park and trying to cut them off from public subsidies.
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