Ex-Presidents Could Be Pardoned This Year

      January 04, 2021 12:52

      The Supreme Court will pass its final verdict on disgraced ex-President Park Geun-hye on Jan. 14 for abuse of power and corruption.

      Park was impeached in 2017 and sentenced in 2018 to a total of 30 years in prison for abuse of power, bribery, coercion and other offences (US$1=W1,088).

      Prosecutors appealed when an appellate court slashed the sentence last year to 20 years by taking into account that she did not gain significant personal benefit from her offenses. Most of the loot went to her toxic confidante Choi Soon-sil.

      Lee Myung-bak (left) and Park Geun-hye

      The Supreme Court is widely expected to uphold the appellate court's ruling. A court official said, "Key issues have already been decided, so there is very little chance of a different conclusion being reached this time." Park has already served a separate two-year sentence for meddling in the 2016 general election.

      Earlier, former President Lee Myung-bak, who was convicted of corruption and embezzling funds from an automotive parts company, was sentenced to 17 years behind bars by the Supreme Court in October of last year.

      Once the Supreme Court delivers its final ruling in Park's case next week, the appeals of both ex-presidents will have been exhausted, making them eligible for a presidential pardon. Only convicted prisoners are eligible for pardons or conditional releases, and both Lee and Park could benefit from a Lunar New Year amnesty.

      Amid plummeting approval ratings for the ruling party and its potential presidential candidates, Minjoo Party floor leader Lee Nak-yon abruptly brought up the issue last week, saying that he would sooner or later urge President Moon Jae-in to consider pardoning the ex-presidents.

      However, he instantly backtracked in the face of fierce opposition from within the ruling party. The MP held an emergency meeting on Sunday and issued a statement saying that Lee and Park must apologize for their offenses first and that the public's view must also be reflected. Lee Nak-yon said his remarks were based on a desire to "unite the public."

      Park has been sulking since she was indicted in April 2017 and refused to defend herself or admit her crimes, so she is unlikely to apologize and may opt to sit out the current government in jail.

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