South Korea’s opposition leader yesterday avoided arrest when a court dismissed a request from the prosecution for him to be taken into custody pending trial on corruption charges.
Lee Jae-myung, leader of the Democratic Party, still faces trial on charges of bribery in connection with a firm that is suspected of illicitly transferring US$8 million to North Korea.
The 58-year-old is also accused of breaching his duties, which allegedly resulted in a loss of 20 billion won (US$15 million) for a company owned by Seongnam city during his term as its mayor.
Prosecutors last week requested an arrest warrant against Lee, a former presidential candidate.
South Korea’s National Assembly voted to strip Lee of his parliamentary immunity a few days later.
However, in a predawn judgement, the Seoul Central District Court dismissed the arrest request following a nine-hour sitting, which Lee attended.
A judge said that it was “difficult to see that there are grounds and necessity for detention,” adding that there was low risk of Lee destroying evidence due to him being a public figure.
Lee has denied all the allegations against him, saying during Tuesday’s hearing that it felt as though he had become “the enemy of the world.”
He thanked the court for “being the last bastion of human rights,” after it handed down the judgement.
South Korean Minister of Justice Han Dong-hoon said that the investigation would continue.
The court’s decision not to confine him does not mean “Lee is innocent of any crime,” Han told reporters. “The prosecution has been investigating fairly according to the procedure and will continue to do so.”
Lee on Aug. 31 began a hunger strike over what he calls the government’s “incompetent and violent” policies, especially its failure to oppose Japan’s release of treated wastewater from the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.
He returned to a hospital where he had been treated for fasting-related ailments after the court’s judgement, local reports said.
He was hospitalized on Monday last week.
WHEELING AND DEALING? Hou You-yi, Ko Wen-je, Eric Chu and Ma Ying-jeou are under investigation for allegedly offering bribes for the other side to drop out of the race Taipei prosecutors have started an investigation into allegations that four top politicians involved in attempts to form a “blue-white” presidential ticket have contravened election regulations. Listed as defendants are Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲). The case stemmed from judicial complaints filed last month with the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office alleging that the KMT (blue) and the TPP (white) had engaged in bribery by offering money or other enticements
COUNTER DISINFORMATION: More engagement and media literacy are needed to push back against misinformation and claims that the US is an unreliable partner, the AIT director said The US is “confident” that Taiwan does not face an imminent threat of a Chinese invasion, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Sandra Oudkirk told a US public radio show, adding that Washington remains committed to defensively arming the nation. She made the comment during an interview on All Things Considered, broadcast on Friday on US-based National Public Radio. “There is an important distinction between making plans and training troops, and getting ready to do something,” Oudkirk said, on whether she thinks Beijing plans to attack Taiwan in the near future. Chinese officials have told Washington that “their preference is for peaceful reunification,
EXPOSED: Some Taipei wardens reported joining the trips out of peer pressure, while others said they were relieved it was made public so they could refuse, a city councilor said Nearly 30 percent of Taipei borough wardens have joined group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government, leading prosecutors probing potential Chinese interference in January’s elections to question local officials, an investigation showed. Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City councilors Chien Shu-pei (簡舒培) and Chen E-jun (陳怡君) have reported cases of Taipei borough wardens inviting residents to join inexpensive privately organized group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government. The six-day trips reportedly cost NT$10,000 to NT$15,000, the councilors said. An investigation by the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) showed that nearly 30 percent
ELIGIBLE FOR JANUARY: All presidential candidates and their running mates meet the requirements to run for office, and none hold dual citizenship, the CEC said Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Legislator and vice presidential candidate Cynthia Wu (吳欣盈) is working with the Central Election Commission (CEC) to resolve issues with her financial disclosure statement, a spokesman for the candidate said yesterday, after the commission published the statements of all three presidential candidates and their running mates, while confirming their eligibility to run in the Jan. 13 election. Wu’s office spokesman, Chen Yu-cheng (陳宥丞), said the candidate encountered unforeseen difficulties disclosing her husband’s finances due to being suddenly thrust into the campaign. She is also the first vice presidential nominee to have a foreign spouse, complicating the reporting of