Prosecutor acquitted of Busan bribe charges

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Prosecutor acquitted of Busan bribe charges

A local court on Friday cleared a former senior prosecutor who was charged with being bribed by a Busan-based construction company owner surnamed Jeong in return for favors.

The Seoul Central District Court found Han Seung-cheol, former chief inspector at the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office, not guilty of that charge and dereliction of duty.

“Though Han did receive drinks and meals from Jeong and also took 1 million won ($896) from him, there’s no proof that Han was aware that the money and treatment were related to his official duties,” the court said. “

Han was indicted in September for accepting 2.4 million won worth of bribes from Jeong on different occasions in 2009, including meals, booze sessions and 1 million won in cash.

According to an independent counsel, Jeong admitted to giving bribes of cash, meals, outings and sex services to Busan prosecutors for two decades for business favors, and he asked prosecutors to investigate. But Han deliberately kept quiet about the matter and didn’t report Jeong’s allegations to Prosecutor General Kim Joon-gyu.

Friday’s ruling is a blow to the independent counsel system, which uses non-prosecutors as investigators to probe bribery of prosecutors.

Three other former prosecutors who were indicted in September for taking bribes from Jeong were cleared of charges recently.

The independent counsel began its probe in August after a committee under the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office in June fired only two of the 10 prosecutors who allegedly accepted bribes. Prosecutors investigated 100 individuals named by Jeong.

In a separate case, a local court on Friday handed down a suspended jail sentence and fine to a former senior prosecutor surnamed Jeong for accepting bribes in return for favors.

Jeong was given a two-year jail sentence, suspended for six months, and a 3.51 million won fine for receiving a Hyundai Grandeur luxury sedan from a construction company owner surnamed Kim in return for lobbying a colleague to interfere in a case against one of Kim’s friends in 2008.

Kim was given a 10 month jail sentence.

The court said Jeong “should take responsibility for damaging the public confidence of prosecutors.”

By Kim Mi-ju, Kwon Seok-chun []
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