Appeal trial of Samsung’s Lee begins
[THE INVESTOR] Samsung Group’s de facto chief Lee Jae-yong, who was convicted of bribing ousted President Park Geun-hye, and state prosecutors clashed on Oct. 12 over the validity of a former presidential aide’s notebook as evidence during the first hearing by an appeals court.
The notebook contains memos by An Chong-bum, arrested and on trial alongside Park on charges of bribery, which he said were notes of what ex-President Park said. The notebook allegedly describes comments Park made regarding Samsung Group after she had one-on-one meeting with Lee.
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong arrives at tge Seoul High Court in southern Seoul on Oct. 12 for the first hearing of his appeal.
Lee is accused of asking for favors concerning Samsung Group in return for donations for entities controlled by Park’s confidante Choi Soon-sil during the one-on-one meeting, which the court acknowledged as “tacit bribery.”
A lower court sentenced Lee to five years in jail on several charges including bribery and embezzlement, acknowledging that he had anticipated support from Park, who was then president. Special Counsel asked the court to sentence him to 12 years in jail. Both sides appealed.
The main point of contention is whether Lee received any favors from the Park administration in respect of Samsung Group’s leadership transfer from Lee’s ailing father and Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee to himself.
Lee denied the charges, saying there were no favors to ask. Special Counsel said that he was a main beneficiary from the money-for-favor scheme, saying it was “explicit bribery,” rather than being based on tacit understanding.
Lee’s defense team said that the notebook cannot be accepted as evidence because Park, who made the comments described in the notebook, could not confirm whether she actually said it. An was not present during the meeting.
Park was asked to appear during the trial to testify in the first trial, but she refused to turn up.
The criminal procedure law stipulates that testimony or evidence presented by a third party relying on what they saw or heard from others cannot be valid as evidence.
Special Counsel, however, said that factual relations had been already constructed based on testimony made during court proceedings at a lower court and the notebook, containing “indirect facts,” was valid as evidence.
An earlier said that what was written on his notebook was 100 percent what Park said.
“100 percent of it is what former President Park Geun-hye said to me. I barely had time to write my own thoughts there,” he said during the trial of ex-Health Minister Moon Hyung-pyo, suspected of peddling influence over the nation’s pension agency to vote in favor of the controversial merger of Samsung Group’s two affiliates.
Grim-faced, Lee walked into the courtroom at 10 a.m., wearing a black suit and carrying an envelope. It was his first public appearance since the lower court handed him a five-year prison term.
The corruption scandal, involving high-profile government officials and business tycoons, drove millions of people to the streets in protest late last year and led to former President Park Geun-hye’s removal from office in March.
By Ock Hyun-ju/The Korea Herald (firstname.lastname@example.org)