Ex-presidential chief of staff acquitted over Sewol sinking in retrial

SEOUL– A former presidential chief of staff was acquitted in a retrial Wednesday on charges that he lied in a document submitted to the National Assembly in connection with the 2014 sinking of the Sewol ferry.

The Seoul High Court reversed a guilty verdict for Kim Ki-choon, chief of staff to then President Park Geun-hye, saying that no new evidence was presented by the prosecution.

Kim was indicted on charges of falsifying the time Park was briefed on the deadly accident in an attempt to fend off criticism the government bungled its response.

Lower courts had acknowledged that Kim had forged Sewol-related documents submitted to the National Assembly, apparently to protect then President Park from being blamed for the government’s botched rescue operation in the accident that claimed more than 300 lives.

The Supreme Court, however, struck down the verdict and sent the case back to the Seoul High Court, saying the documents contained both facts and opinions, and that the fact parts conform to the records of the presidential office.

On April 16, 2014, the 6,800-ton Sewol, carrying 476 passengers en route to the resort island of Jeju, capsized in waters off the southern coast, killing 304 people, mostly high school students on a school trip.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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