Lee Jae-yong will not attend retrial due to father's funeral

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Lee Jae-yong will not attend retrial due to father's funeral

Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong won't attend his retrial due to his father's funeral Monday, in a massive bribery scandal that led to the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye.
Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, asked the Seoul High Court to allow his absence from the retrial after his father Lee Kun-hee passed away Sunday.
The retrial resumed as the Supreme Court last month struck down the complaint lodged by the prosecution in January to replace the judges of the court who it criticized for ruling favorably for the defendant.
Earlier this month, the appellate court ordered Lee to appear in court, contrary to its customary practice in which a defendant is not required to attend a preparatory session for an upcoming trial.
Without him attending, the court will hold a session later in the day, calling both parties — the prosecution and Lee's legal team — to present their opinions and key arguments, a process aimed at enhancing the efficiency of the upcoming retrial.
The de facto leader of the country's top conglomerate was initially sentenced to five years in jail in 2017 for bribing a longtime friend of former President Park as he sought the government's help in succeeding his father and securing control of Samsung Group.
He was freed a year later after the appeals court reduced the term to two and a half years, suspended for four years, dismissing most of the bribery charges against him.
The top court, however, sent the case back to a lower court in August last year for retrial, saying that Lee should be found guilty of providing about 5 billion won ($4.1 million) more worth of bribes to the president's friend Choi Soon-sil, charges excluded from the previous court ruling.
The court said the three horses, worth 3.4 billion won, that Samsung gifted to Choi should be considered as bribes. The earlier ruling had excluded them from bribery charges given that Samsung didn't give Choi ownership of the horses. It also noted that Samsung's 1.6 billion-won donation to a sports foundation run by the Choi family was a planned move relevant to Lee's management succession from his father who was being hospitalized at that time. 
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