Playing the victim

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Playing the victim

A guilty verdict was confirmed for former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook on charges of taking bribes while in public service, stripping the former leader of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) of her parliamentary seat.

In an 8-to-5 ruling, the Supreme Court sentenced Han to two years in prison for receiving illicit funds from a construction company owner in 2007 while leading the cabinet under President Roh Moo-hyun.

Both she and the NPAD refused to accept the highest court’s ruling, which came two years after Han appealed an appeals court’s guilty verdict. They claimed it to be “political persecution.” In a press conference, Han criticized the judiciary for lying and being politically motivated.

Han claimed she has lived as the subject of a political vendetta ever since former President Roh committed suicide in 2009 during a prosecution probe. She portrayed herself as a political scapegoat by associating her bribe-taking case with the probe that led to a tragic end for the former president.

Han was the country’s first woman prime minister and was the leader of the main opposition party. It is preposterous that someone with such experience and status can accuse the country’s Supreme Court of targeting the opposition.

It is shameful that someone with so little respect for the independence of the judiciary could have led a cabinet and represented the country as the second-most powerful statesperson. Han had lived free and functioned as a lawmaker for the last five years even after her indictment on a very serious charge. She enjoyed prerogatives unimaginable to a common citizen.

Even as she was being tried, Han ran for Seoul mayor and led the NPAD’s last election campaign. Her claim of political persecution has no grounds. She and the NPAD must stop the whining and apologize for their wrongdoings.

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