Court finds teachers guilty of making political donations

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Court finds teachers guilty of making political donations

The Seoul Central District Court yesterday found 260 of 272 teachers and public servants guilty of making donations to the minor opposition Democratic Labor Party.

The court, however, acquitted the public servants of charges that they joined the DLP, citing “lack of evidence.”

Korean law prohibits public servants and teachers from engaging in political activities, and they were indicted on charges of giving money to the DLP.

The court handed out 300,000 won ($268) in fines to 223 teachers and public servants - including Jeong Jin-hu, former head of the Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union - and slapped 500,000 won fines on 37 people, including the civil servants’ union leader Yang Sung-yoon.

“The defendants argue they didn’t join the DLP, [but they did] pay money to support the political party,” the court said. “But [a law allowing public servants to donate money] was abolished in 2006, and they violated the political fund law and the public-servant workers’ law.”

The court, however, suspended 300,000 won in fines for three defendants. It also cleared three other defendants who argued that their husbands donated money to the DLP under their names. The court decided to hold off on handing down verdicts to six defendants who were no-shows at yesterday’s trial.

Hundreds of teachers and civil servants were indicted last May on charges of joining the DLP and donating 115 million won to the party since 2005.

In a separate trial yesterday, the court ruled against the DLP, which had sued four media outlets for defamation, including the Chosun Ilbo and JoongAng Ilbo. The court also rejected the DLP’s request for corrections to be run on articles quoting police who said teachers and public servants joined the DLP and engaged in political activities.

“A considerable number of teachers and public servants who belong to the Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union and the Korean Government Employees Union violated the law ... so there is no reason for the media to run corrections,” the court said.

By Kim Mi-ju, Ku Hui-lyung []
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