South Korea: Supreme Court orders retrial of former President Park in NIS fund case

by BERNAMA / pic by AFP

SEOUL – The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a retrial of former President Park Geun Hye (picture) for acceptance of off-the-books funds from the National Intelligence Service (NIS), saying her acquittals by lower courts on bribery and state fund loss charges should be reversed, Yonhap news agency reported.

The top court instructed the Seoul High Court to retry Park’s case, raising legal questions about the appellate court’s decision in July to reduce her sentence in the NIS fund scandal by one year to five years in prison.

Besides the commutation of jail term, the Seoul High Court also reduced Park’s forfeit by 600 million won to 2.7 billion won (US$2.3 million) by acquitting her of part of the state fund loss charge and applying a charge of embezzlement instead.

Park was indicted in January 2018 on charges of accepting 3.5 billion won (about US$2.9 million) from three NIS chiefs from May 2013 to September 2016 in collusion with her secretaries and sentenced by the Seoul Central District Court in July of the same year to six years in jail and a forfeit of 3.3 billion won (about US$2.7 million). At that time, the district court acquitted Park of bribery and applied a charge of loss of state funds in determining her sentence.

As for the partial acquittal, the Seoul High Court said the NIS chiefs accused of handing their off-the-books funds to Park cannot be regarded as accounting officials stipulated by the laws on the loss of state funds.

But the Supreme Court said the lower courts’ decisions to acquit Park of state fund loss and bribery charges were wrong and that she should be seen as guilty of such charges.