July 28, 2017 09:26
Ex-presidential chief of staff Kim Ki-choon was sentenced on Thursday to three years behind bars for blacklisting thousands of artists and cultural figures "hostile" to ex-President Park Geun-hye.
He put almost 10,000 painters, writers, newspaper companies, publishers and movie directors on the blacklist with the aim of sabotaging any state funding they might be entitled to.
But the Seoul Central District Court said there was insufficient evidence that Park, who is separately on trial for the offense, ordered him to compile the blacklist, though she "may have been briefed" about it.
The court found ex-Culture Minister Cho Yoon-sun not guilty of compiling the blacklist, but guilty of perjury under oath by claiming in a National Assembly hearing that she knew nothing about it. She received a two-years suspended sentence and was released from the remand prison where she has been held.
Cho was the only one of seven officials indicted over the blacklist to be cleared of that charge. The others include Cho's predecessor Kim Jong-deok, who was sentenced to two years in prison for abuse of power.
"Cheong Wa Dae's and the Culture Ministry's discrimination against those on the blacklist severely impaired the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution and cannot be tolerated under any circumstances," presiding judge Hwang Byung-heon said.
Hwang added that the ex-chief of staff "continues to deny responsibility by claiming he was not informed or has no recollection."
Leaving the court, Cho said, "I am thankful [to the court] for resolving the misunderstanding about me." She declined to comment when asked if she had anything to say to the artists who were blacklisted.
In her closing statement, Cho said she could handle living in a small prison cell but found it unbearable to be "labeled as the main culprit in the blacklisting scandal."
Cho's husband, who is an attorney and defended his wife in the trial, sobbed in front of the judge and said he was sorry for failing to protect her. She spent almost six months in the remand prison.
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