September 07, 2018 10:56
Prosecutors on Thursday requested a 20-year prison term for ex-President Lee Myung-bak as well as W15 billion in fines and W11.1 billion in forfeited illegal gains (US$1=W1,122).
Lee was indicted in April on charges of embezzling W34.9 billion from an auto parts maker called DAS, which he is accused of owning by proxy, while in office and taking W11.1 billion in bribes.
Prosecutors said Lee "went beyond abusing the authority bestowed on him by the public and treated that power as his own. He tried to hide the truth and pass the blame to his subordinates."
Lee to this day insists that he "never owned a single share of DAS," which is nominally his brother's, and claimed to "feel not only anger but grief over the ludicrous charges."
Lee spent 15 minutes reading a handwritten statement protesting innocence on all 16 charges brought against him. "Most of the charges have to do with money," he said. "Even though I spent my childhood years in harsh poverty where I often had to go without food, I never begged or became jealous of what other people owned."
"My sole asset is the house in which I live," he added. "I detest corruption and the cozy relationship between politicians and businessmen, and [the charges] are overwhelmingly humiliating for a person who lived in dread of such offenses."
Lee also insisted that he cooperated with the investigation, unlike former President Park Geun-hye who has been tried in absentia. "Some have accused this trial of being politically motivated, but I cooperated earnestly since I believed that was the legal duty of a citizen and that a former president should show respect for the law."
In fact Lee has protested from the start that the trial is politically motivated and refused to give evidence in court.
The verdict is expected on Oct. 5.
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