Seoul, Aug 13 (EFE).- South Korean multinational Samsung Group’s de facto leader was released on Friday on parole from prison, where he had been held for corruption since January.
Lee Jae-yong walked out of the Seoul Detention Center, located in Uiwang, south of the South Korean capital, and was greeted by a crowd of journalists and supporters chanting his name.
“I apologize for causing people great concern,” Lee told reporters. “I am well aware of those concerns, criticisms and expectations of me.”
On Aug. 9, the South Korean government granted parole 810 inmates, among them the 53-year-old de facto leader of the country’s largest business group, on the occasion of National Liberation Day on Sunday.
On this day, the authorities usually grant a pardon to certain prisoners who have served 60 percent of their sentences.
Lee was sentenced in January to two-and-a-half years in prison for his involvement in the so-called corruption scheme created by former president Park Geun-hye’s close personal aide, Choi Soon-sil, dubbed the South Korean “Rasputin” by local media, which ended with Park’s removal and imprisonment.
The court found Lee guilty of paying bribes to Choi — who had influence over Park — to help him become the leader of the Samsung Group after his father, the group’s chairman Lee Kun-hee, had a heart attack in 2014 which left him incapacitated till his death in October last year.
Lee was sentenced to five years in prison in 2017 but was released in 2018 when an appeals court reduced his sentence.
However, in August 2019, the Supreme Court presented additional charges against Lee, leading to a retrial of the case.
Between the time he spent in prison between 2017 and 2018 and the more than six months he has been behind bars this year, Lee had already served 60 percent of his two-and-a-half-year jail sentence.
However, the decision to grant him a parole has not been without controversy, since a section of the South Korean public believes that it goes against the promise made by current South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, to fight corruption. EFE