Top court upholds Han’s acquittal

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Top court upholds Han’s acquittal

The Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that acquitted Han Myeong-sook, former prime minister under the late President Roh Moo-hyun, of bribery charges.

In 2009, prosecutors indicted Han, arguing that she took the $50,000 cash in bribes from former Korea Express chief executive Kwak Young-wook during an official luncheon held at the prime minister’s residence in central Seoul in December 2006, in return for helping Kwak land the top position at a state-run corporation.

“Kwak’s testimony lacks objectivity and rationality,” the top court said in its ruling, adding that it is difficult to rule out the possibility that Kwak could have made false statements to prosecutors.

A Seoul district court, however, acquitted Han of the bribery charges in October, 2011. A Seoul appellate court in January of last year upheld the lower court’s ruling, saying that Kwak’s testimony lacks credibility and consistency.

Kwak, in the same Thursday ruling, received a confirmed two-and-half-year prison term, suspended for four years, for embezzling funds from Korea Express.

Thursday’s ruling helped Han put behind her one of two major bribery cases, with a second criminal case awaiting the appellate court’s decision.

The Seoul Central District Court cleared Han on separate charges of taking nearly 900 million won ($811,468) as political funds from Han Man-ho, the head of a local construction company, in violation of the Political Fund Law.

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