February 12, 2019 14:02
A series of cases involving ex-President Park Geun-hye, her confidante Choi Soon-sil and Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong will be heard by a full bench of the Supreme Court, it said Monday. That means all 12 justices will deliberate the case.
So far, the cases have been handled separately by a panel of four judges each. But any case that draws huge public attention or requires a unified interpretation of the law can be submitted to the full bench.
Although the three defendants were involved in the same scandal, rulings from lower courts were somewhat inconsistent.
The key is to identify the amount of money Samsung bribed Park in various ways with, which funneled into the equestrian training for Choi's daughter and other dubious ventures like a bogus winter sports foundation.
The appeals court which handled Park's case put the total at W8.6 billion, but a kinder appeals court in Lee's case only accepted that W3.6 billion could be considered a straight-up bribe while the rest was extorted by Park and Choi (US$1=W1,125). On the basis of that lenient view, Lee's five-year prison sentence was turned into a suspended sentence.
Now the Supreme Court will either establish once and for all what part of the money was and was not a bribe or return one or more of the cases to a lower court.
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