August 10, 2021 13:47
Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong will be released from jail under a special parole to mark Liberation Day on Aug. 15.
Lee is being sprung together with 810 convicts on Friday, some 200 days since he was jailed in a retrial for bribing ex-President Park Geun-hye.
The Justice Ministry had considered the applications of 1,057 convicts for the amnesty, Justice Minister Park Beom-kye told reporters Monday.
Lee was jailed on remand in February 2017 and spent 353 days behind bars until his sentence was suspended by an appellate court in 2018. But in January this year the case had to be retried after the Supreme Court sent it back citing inconsistencies in sentencing in the same case and he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years.
Park said the ministry took into consideration the "country's economic situation and the global economic conditions amid the protracted pandemic" in deciding to set him free on parole.
But the parole conditions mean Lee will have to get approval from the ministry if he officially goes back to his old job. In fact Lee has been running the business as best he could from his cell, but he has not drawn a salary since his conviction.
Lee will also have to report to police if he moves house and get approval from the ministry to go overseas until his sentence ends next year, but these are likely to be formalities.
Leftwing civic groups protested against the decision, saying it reflects unfair privilege for the rich.
Lee faces two further trials that could yet send him back to prison -- one on charges of cooking the books in the 2015 merger of Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T to facilitate his takeover of the conglomerate; and the other on charges of taking the fashionable knockout sleeping drug Propofol illegally in 2020. They could take years to finish.
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