'Benz' prosecutor cleared of bribery charges

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'Benz' prosecutor cleared of bribery charges

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'벤츠 여검사'로 불리는 이모 전 검사(왼쪽에서 두번째)가 지난 1월 부산지법에서 열린 선고공판에 출석하기 위해 목도리로 얼굴을 감싼 채 변호인과 함께 법정으로 향하고 있다. (자료사진)

A disgraced former female prosecutor has been acquitted of charges of receiving lavish bribes, including a luxury sedan and a designer bag, in return for peddling her influence for a criminal case, court officials said Thursday.

Overturning a lower court's ruling of a three-year prison term and the forfeiture of 44.6 million won (US$39,700), the Busan High Court delivered a not guilty verdict for the 37-year-old woman, known by her family name Lee, said the officials.

The former prosecutor was indicted on charges of pressing a fellow prosecutor in late 2010 to advance a criminal case in favor of a private practice lawyer, surnamed Choi. In return, she received a high-end Chanel handbag worth 5.4 million won, a Mercedes-Benz sedan and other financial benefits from Choi.

Lee and Choi were romantically involved at the time.

"The defendant was approached by Choi about the criminal case sometime in early September 2010. (She) received the Mercedes-Benz sedan in February 2008, which is about two years and seven months before," Judge Kim Hyung-chun said in his ruling.

The sedan was given as a "token of love," not as a "bribe," Kim added.

Meanwhile, the prison term for the 40-year-old woman who had initially brought the case to the prosecutors was increased to one year and four months from one year, in a separate appeal ruling.

The petitioner, the former prosecutor and the lawyer were reportedly involved in a love triangle.

The female prosecutor resigned from her position in a city near Seoul in 2011 after the scandal became public. (Yonhap)

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