Prose­cu­tors ques­tion S. Korea ex-pres­i­dent

New Straits Times - - WORLD -

SEOUL: For­mer pres­i­dent Lee Myung-bak ap­peared for ques­tion­ing yes­ter­day over al­le­ga­tions he took bribes when he was in of­fice, fol­low­ing months of in­ves­ti­ga­tions into his fam­ily and ac­quain­tances over the graft charges.

Lee made his way be­fore hun­dreds of re­porters wait­ing out­side the prose­cu­tors’ of­fice to ask him ques­tions in the lat­est toplevel po­lit­i­cal cor­rup­tion scan­dal to rock the coun­try.

“I stand be­fore you to­day with a tragic heart. I of­fer my deep­est apology to the peo­ple for caus­ing worry amid times when the econ­omy is in hard­ship and the sit­u­a­tion sur­round­ing the Korean penin­sula is se­ri­ous,” Lee said.

“I have much to say as a for­mer pres­i­dent, but I should re­frain from say­ing much.”

Lee faces al­most 20 charges and the prose­cu­tion be­lieves he took around 11 bil­lion won un­law­fully from a num­ber of in­sti­tu­tions and in­di­vid­u­als, in­clud­ing the coun­try’s Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice and Sam­sung Group.

Prose­cu­tors last month sought a 30year jail term for for­mer pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye, Lee’s suc­ces­sor, who was ousted last year amid an in­flu­ence-ped­dling scan­dal and is stand­ing trial on charges of bribery, abuse of power and co­er­cion.

Lee has de­nied any wrong­do­ing, call­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the bribery al­le­ga­tions po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated by prose­cu­tors un­der the in­cum­bent lib­eral ad­min­is­tra­tion. The for­mer pres­i­dent was in of­fice from 2008 to 2013 be­fore his suc­ces­sor, Park, won her pres­i­dency.

Lee Myung-bak

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