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Former senior prosecutor gets jail term for bribery

SEOUL, Jan. 28 — A Seoul court sentenced a former senior prosecutor to two-and-a-half years in jail for accepting a luxury car and other kickbacks from a businessman in return for ordering his subordinate to investigate a case against the bribe giver's rival.

The 52-year-old, surnamed Jeong who formerly served at the Seoul Central Prosecutors' Office, was charged with accepting bribes worth 46 million won (US$ 41,292).

Jeong was investigated after being sued by the businessman for graft and was later cleared by a local court, but his case was rehashed last October after opposition parties accused the prosecution of going lenient on him because he was a former colleague. An independent counsel indicted him last month on a bribery charge and demanded a three-year jail term.

The Seoul Central District Court dismissed Jeong's claim that he only borrowed the money to buy the car and later repaid the funds, saying that he is certain to have received the car for free given his "efforts to hide the source of money and timing of the money transfer."

The defendant "should take heavy responsibility for undermining the prosecution's reputation among ordinary citizens," the court said in a ruling.

The court also fined Jeong 35 million won and ordered him to restitute 46 million won.

Meanwhile, the same court exonerated another former senior prosecutor, who was also investigated by an independent counsel of a bribery charge in a case that developed into a full-blown scandal to taint the prosecution.

Han Seung-chul, who previously served at the Supreme Prosecutors' Office, was named by a businessman who claimed he had bribed a number of prosecution officials with money, free meals and prostitution services. He came public with his accusations through a local broadcaster in April last year.

Although the court acknowledged that Han received cash and meals worth 1 million won, the court said that there are "no sufficient grounds to relate this (favor) with his official duty." (PNA/Yonhap)

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