Special counsel files appeal against ruling on Samsung heir

SEOUL-- Special prosecutors said Tuesday they appealed a district court ruling on Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong who was sentenced to five years in prison late last week for bribing former President Park Geun-hye and her longtime friend.

Special Counsel led by Park Young-soo, in charge of the high-profile corruption case involving the de facto head of South Korea's richest conglomerate, said it will contest part of the verdict that found Lee innocent of some of the bribery charges.

The prosecution also filed an appeal for four Samsung executives who were sentenced to prison and suspended terms.

On Friday, the Seoul Central District Court convicted Lee of involvement in providing some 7.2 billion won (US$6.38 million) in kickbacks for the equestrian training of the daughter of Park's friend Choi Soon-sil. It also found Lee guilty of embezzlement, hiding assets overseas, concealment of criminal proceeds and perjury, all of which led to the impeachment and ouster of Park in March.

Prosecutors had accused him of offering or promising 43.3 billion won of bribes to secure government backing for a merger of two Samsung units deemed crucial in cementing his control on the business empire worth over 350 trillion won.

"The ruling that has acquitted the defendant of part of the bribery charges is a mistake of fact and misunderstanding of legal principles," the special counsel team said in a message released to media. "The sentencing is considered too light given that the case is a key crime in the influence-peddling case by the former president and Choi."

The prosecution's appeal comes a day after Lee's legal representative appealed against the court decision. Song Woo-chul, Lee's lawyer, said earlier that "the defendant cannot accept any of the convictions and (we're) confident that (the upper court) will find him innocent through the appeal."

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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