Ex-senior prosecutor gets 7 years for bribery

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Ex-senior prosecutor gets 7 years for bribery

A Seoul court sentenced Kim Gwang-jun, the former senior prosecutor indicted for taking bribes of over 1 billion won ($876,000) from corporate officials and businessmen, to a seven-year prison term and ordered him to pay 348 million won to the state.

“As a high-ranking public officer and a core member of the prosecution who should always bear in mind a high ethical code and impartial judgment, the defendant had committed such corruption practices instead of showing junior prosecutors a role model to follow,” said Judge Lee Jung-suk at the Seoul Central District Court in delivering the ruling.

“The nature of the crime committed by Kim is serious enough [for the seven-year prison term] as he used borrowed name accounts for taking in a large amount of money through bribes, thus damaging the reputation of the prosecution group.”

Kim was indicted by the prosecutors on charges that he had received money and entertainment worth more than 1 billion won in bribes from Eugene Group, a construction company, and Cho Hee-pal, a pyramid scheme con man, as well as other corporation officials, when he was investigating corporate irregularities at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office in 2008.

Considering the amount of bribes the former prosecutor raked in, seven years in prison was considered a lenient punishment.

The prosecutors demanded the court sentence Kim to jail for 12 years and six months and fine him over 2 billion won.

The court cited the fact that Kim had experienced personal loss with the death of his wife during his detention and that he had returned some of the bribes before the investigation began.

Kim’s wife died of cancer last month and he was temporarily released for a week on a suspended term to attend the funeral.

“We took into account that the defendant did not conduct his prosecutorial task in a wrongful way [though he took bribes] and that he lost his wife while standing trial,” said the court in explaining the light sentence.

Kim’s fall from the elite investigative body rocked the prosecution last year. His indictment marked the first time for an incumbent prosecutor to be indicted with detention in the last decade and the bribery amount was the largest ever for a prosecutor.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]
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