Lee grants special pardons to ex-confidants, others

Park Sae-jin Reporter() | Posted : April 26, 2013, 10:08 | Updated : April 26, 2013, 10:08
With less than a month to go before the expiration of his term, President Lee Myung-bak issued special pardons to 55 people, including a long-time friend and former close confidants, Jan. 29.

The pardons, however, triggered harsh criticism from President-elect Park Geun-hye's transition committee.

The transition team's spokesman, Yoon Chang-jung, said: "The special pardons are very regrettable."

"Pressing head with pardoning those involved in corruption cases will be denounced by the people," the spokesman said.

He urged President Lee to bear responsibility for it.

President Lee endorsed the pardons during a Cabinet meeting at Cheong Wa Dae.

Lee said upon his inauguration, he promised not to abuse power to grant special pardons and pledged not to grant pardons to those found involved in influence-peddling cases during his five-year tenure.

"I tried to keep my promise. The pardons were carried out based on such principles," he said.

To carry out transparent pardons in accordance with the law and principles, Lee said, the special pardon bill was reviewed by a screening committee including several civilians, the first of its kind in the country.

Among those pardoned were Lee‘s long-time friend Chun Shin-il and close confidant Choi See-joong. Both Chun and Choi were convicted of bribery charges.

Also included were former National Assembly Speaker Park Hee-tae and Kim Hyo-jae, a former senior presidential secretary for political affairs. Park and Kim were convicted of vote-buying in a leadership race of the ruling party.

Others included Suh Chung-won, a former lawmaker and close aide to President-elect Park, who was convicted for his role in a bribery case.

Apart from them, five people convicted for their involvement in a 2009 clash with police over a redevelopment project in Yongsan, Seoul, were granted pardons.
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