Detention postponed for former prime minister

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Detention postponed for former prime minister

Seoul prosecutors announced Friday that they had decided to postpone the execution of a prison sentence for former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook on a bribery conviction after taking into consideration a petition she filed earlier that day.

According to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, Han submitted a petition to postpone the execution of her prison sentence, which prosecutors accepted.

She will enter the Seoul Detention Center in Uiwang, Gyeonggi, at 2 p.m. Monday.

Han, who served as prime minister in the Roh Moo-hyun administration, requested through her lawyer early Friday that prosecutors delay her scheduled imprisonment. An official from the prosecution said Han had explained that she needed time for a medical examination and to settle personal affairs.

The prosecution originally ordered Han to arrive at the prosecutors’ office or the detention center on Friday, a day after the Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that found her guilty of accepting 880 million won ($740,000) in bribes from Han Man-ho, the owner of a construction company, while serving as prime minister. She was sentenced to two years in prison.

Han was found not guilty in her first trial in 2011, when the company owner changed his testimony stating that he had bribed the former prime minister in return for business favors.

The appellate court overturned the sentence, however, in consideration of Han Man-ho’s statement.

Following Thursday’s decision, Han was stripped of her legislative seat. Korean law stipulates that a person sentenced to prison or death is not eligible to run in elections and that those already elected will be stripped of his or her post. Han was elected in a general election in 2012.

The New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) criticized the Supreme Court’s decision as a move to suppress the opposition party.

“Han’s conviction is the beginning [of efforts] to annihilate the opposition party before the general election next year,” NPAD Chairman Moon Jae-in said on Friday. “A logic based on ‘not guilty for the ruling party, and guilty for the opposition’ replaces justice and principal.”

The ruling party said that the NPAD should accept the sentence and see it as an opportunity to change.

BY KIM BAEK-KI AND WI MOON-HEE [nam.yoonseo@joongang.co.kr]

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