Court mulls releasing CJ chairman for surgery

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Court mulls releasing CJ chairman for surgery

A hearing was held yesterday by a local court to decide whether it should temporarily release CJ Group Chairman Lee Jay-hyun so that he can have a kidney transplant later this month.

The 53-year-old chief of the country’s 14th largest conglomerate has been detained at the Seoul Detention Center in Uiwang, Gyeonggi, since July 18, after being indicted for allegedly creating slush funds worth 620 billion won ($550.5 million), evading taxes and embezzling CJ funds totaling about 200 billion won.

The hearing was held at 3 p.m. and lasted 50 minutes, although the Seoul Central District Court had reached no decision as of press time.

“Because this is a high-profile case that the entire nation is looking at, the court is taking its time to take the right decision,” a spokesman of the court told the JoongAng Ilbo.

Lee is scheduled to receive kidney transplant surgery on Aug. 28 at Seoul National University Hospital. The donor is his 53-year-old wife, Kim Hee-jae.

Because Lee’s lawyers said he needs at least a week to be readied for the surgery, the decision could likely come as early as today.

On Aug. 8, Lee requested to the court that he temporarily be let out of prison due to health problems, reportedly stating that his chronic renal failure had worsened considerably during his confinement and that he now required a kidney transplant.

The request also cited Lee’s worsening chronic illnesses, such as high blood pressure and hyperlipidemia.

Lee was transferred from solitary confinement, where he had originally been placed, to a prison hospital ward following the request.

In an effort to help its boss, CJ released a statement on July 8 saying that Lee has long suffered from chronic renal failure.

The preparation period for the trial was scheduled to begin today.

However, the hearing schedule will now be rearranged according to the court’s decision on whether Lee will temporarily be released for his kidney surgery.



BY KIM KI-HWAN, KWON SANG-SOO [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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