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Tuesday 25 September 2018

Prosecutors demand 12-year prison term for Samsung heir

Lee Jae-yong arriving at Seoul High Court in South Korea (Lee Jin-man/AP)
Lee Jae-yong arriving at Seoul High Court in South Korea (Lee Jin-man/AP)

Prosecutors in South Korea have demanded a 12-year prison term for Samsung's jailed billionaire heir, Lee Jae-yong, who maintained his innocence during an appeal against his conviction on bribery and other charges.

In August, a lower court sentenced Lee to five years in prison for offering bribes to former South Korean president Park Geun-hye and her confidante while Park was in office.

Both Lee and prosecutors, who earlier had requested a 12-year prison term, appealed against that ruling.

Prosecutors said during Lee's appeal hearing that they still want Lee to receive 12 years in prison, according to the Seoul High Court.

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency cited the court as saying it will issue a ruling on Lee on February 5.

If the court's ruling is appealed against again, either by Lee or prosecutors, his case will be handed over to the Supreme Court, which will make a final ruling on him.

Lee's bribery case is part of a huge political scandal that led to the ousting of Park in late March after millions of South Koreans took to the streets for anti-government rallies for months.

Samsung, founded by Lee's grandfather, is one of the key family-run South Korean conglomerates that have dominated the country's economy.

Some credit them with leading South Korea's export-driven economy and rebuilding its economy from the ashes of the 1950-53 Korean War, but others allege their successes were only possible because of corrupt, collusive ties with government officials.

"It was a typical case showing cosy, collusive ties between government and businesses," special prosecutor Park Young-soo said during Wednesday's court session, according to South Korean media.

Lee, who was convicted of embezzlement, hiding assets overseas and perjury, repeated a denial of the charges, according to his lawyers.

Lee, whose official title is vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, took a higher-profile role after his father and Samsung chair Lee Kun-hee suffered a heart attack in 2014.

Samsung is the world's largest maker of smartphones, television sets and microchips.

AP

Press Association

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