2 opposition lawmakers lose seats

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2 opposition lawmakers lose seats

Two opposition lawmakers elected on People’s Party tickets lost their National Assembly seats on Thursday as a result of two separate Supreme Court rulings.

The Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling and sentenced Rep. Park Joon-young of the minor opposition Party for Democracy and Peace to two and a half years in prison on charges of receiving illegal political funds, stripping him of his parliamentary seat.

Park, former three-term governor of South Jeolla, was indicted for accepting 352 million won ($324,104) in illegal political donations ahead of the 2016 general election from a regional politician seeking his influence in winning a proportional representation ticket.

The district and appeals courts both convicted Park of the charges and sentenced him to two and a half years in prison and a forfeiture of more than 300 million won. On Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld the lower courts’ verdict.

As a result, Park lost his National Assembly seat.

By law, legislators are stripped of National Assembly seats if they are convicted of political funding or election law violations and receive a 1 million won fine or heavier sentences.

Park has been on trial without physical detention as lawmakers are immune from arrest while the National Assembly is in session.

Following the Supreme Court’s verdict, however, he will be jailed, officials said.

Another opposition lawmaker lost his National Assembly seat on Thursday after the Supreme Court convicted one of his aides on charges of accounting irregularities during the 2016 general elections.

The aide of Rep. Song Ki-seok of the People’s Party was sentenced to eight months in prison, which will be suspended for one year, and 2 million won in fines for failing to report some campaign spending to the National Election Commission.

The aide, identified only by his surname Lim, was also charged with paying voluntary campaigners.

Song, a former judge, is one of the closest confidantes of Ahn Cheol-soo, chairman of the People’s Party. Since August last year, he was serving as Ahn’s chief of staff.

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