Supreme Court overturns conviction of Gyeonggi-do Province governor
Updated: 2020-07-16 17:13:47 KST
The Supreme Court of South Korea has sent the case of Gyeonggi-do Province Governor Lee Jae-myung back to the district court that convicted him.
This means that the lower court will have to review the case again because the Supreme Court finds the decision to be a misinterpretation of the law and as a result, he will not be removed from office at this time.
The top court was split 7 to 5.
Had it gone the other way, though, his political career would've been all but over because the related fine of about 25-hundred U.S. dollars would disqualify him from holding office and from running for office again for the next five years.
After the ruling, he appeared outside his office to thank his supporters
"I will take this result as the citizens' order to work harder as the governor. And as I have been doing, I will work even harder as the governor and will return the favor by advancing the lives of the citizens and the province of Gyeonggi-do."
When proceedings began in 2018 in municipal court, Governor Lee was initially charged with four offenses the first, allegedly abusing his power to have his brother committed to a mental hospital.
About that incident and two others, he was charged with lying to the public.
On all four, he was found not guilty.
But on appeal to the district court, he was convicted of one count of lying to the public specifically, for denying that he had his brother committed.
That was something he later admitted he had been involved in but in a televised political debate claimed he had not as he hastily responded to an opponent's question.
Both the governor and the prosecution appealed the result to the Supreme Court.
The top court said dodging an opponent's question is not the same as a fabrication.
"Given the Supreme Court's decision today, legal experts say it's highly likely that the governor will retain his position, and with it, his political career. His current term ends in 2022."
Kim Do-yeon, Arirang News.