South Korea’s top court yesterday ordered new trials for former president Park Geun-hye and Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong over the corruption scandal that brought her down, in a blow to the world’s biggest smartphone and memory chip maker.
Park is serving a 25-year jail term after being convicted last year on bribery and abuse of power charges.
But Lee, whose sprawling conglomerate is vital to the health of the world’s 11th-largest economy, had many of his convictions quashed on appeal in February 2018 and was released after being given a suspended sentence.
Their trials highlighted shady links between big business and politics in South Korea, with Park and her close friend Choi Soon-sil accused of taking bribes from corporate bigwigs in exchange for preferential treatment.
South Korea’s Supreme Court yesterday sent all three of their cases back for new proceedings, saying that errors had been made in the judgements.
After a 10-month trial -- in which she boycotted most of the proceedings in protest at being held in custody -- Park was convicted in April last year of receiving or demanding more than $20 million from conglomerates, sharing secret state documents, “blacklisting” artists critical of her policies, and firing officials who resisted her abuses of power.