'Teflon Man' Woo Byung-woo Gets 2.5 Years in Prison

  • By Shin Su-ji

    February 23, 2018 10:33

    Former presidential secretary for civil affairs Woo Byung-woo was sentenced to two years and six months behind bars on Thursday for dereliction of duty, abuse of power and perjury.

    Woo was indicted in April last year after showing remarkable skill at evading the massive corruption and influence-peddling scandal that engulfed ex-President Park Geun-hye.

    He has separately been indicted for ordering the National Intelligence Service to conduct illegal surveillance of public officials and civilians. That trial is still in progress and Woo may end up spending more time behind bars.

    Woo Byung-woo leaves the Seoul Central District Court after a sentence hearing on Thursday.

    The Seoul Central District Court found Woo guilty of four out of nine charges. The presiding judge said, "Woo was aware of the illicit acts being committed by [Park's crony] Choi Soon-sil yet failed to launch an investigation," which would have been his job description at Cheong Wa Dae.

    The judge added that Woo "denies the charges and continued to give excuses, showing no signs of remorse."

    Woo was found also guilty of obstructing the duties of a special auditor appointed to scrutinize allegations that his son was given preferential treatment in his military draft.

    He was also convicted of leaning on the Fair Trade Commission to have prosecutors investigate CJ E&M for producing what the presidential office deemed "hostile" -- read left-leaning -- movies.

    He was also punished for failing to show up for a National Assembly audit in October 2016.

    But the court cleared Woo of instructing the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to demote six officials who objected to Cheong Wa Dae orders to disadvantage artists deemed hostile to Park's vaudeville regime. The judge said they could conceivably have been demoted to deal with favoritism and other malpractice at the ministry.

    Woo made no comment, but his lawyer vowed to appeal.

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