Published: Thu, March 15, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

South Korea's former leader questioned on graft charges

South Korea's former leader questioned on graft charges

And Roh Moo-hyun, Lee's immediate predecessor, committed suicide in 2009 after he was questioned in a corruption probe involving his family.

Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visited on Wednesday the prosecution headquarters for an interrogation over numerous corruption allegations, the Yonhap news agency reported on Wednesday. His humiliation comes a year after the woman who succeeded him, Park Geun-hye, was impeached, arrested and charged with corruption. "I offer my deepest apology to the people for causing worry amid times when the economy is in hardship and the situation surrounding the Korean peninsula is serious", Lee said.

Park Geun-hye, Lee's successor, was removed out of office previous year for an influence-peddling scandal involving her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil.

After the South embraced democracy in the 1990s, former dictator Chun Doo Hwan and his successor Roh Tae Woo were handed sentences of death and life imprisonment respectively for their involvement in a 1979 military coup and for receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes.

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Both their sentences were reduced on appeal, and they were eventually pardoned and released after serving about two years each.

South Korea's former president Lee Myung-bak (front R) arrives at the prosecutors' office in Seoul on March 14, 2018.

Lee faces nearly 20 charges and the prosecution believe he took around 11 billion won unlawfully from a number of institutions and individuals including the country's National Intelligence Service and Samsung Group.

The businessman-turned-politician has insisted the state investigation is an act of political retaliation by the liberal Moon Jae-in government.

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He reportedly denied all the allegations.

The heir to parent Samsung Group, Jay Y. Lee, was freed last month with a suspended jail sentence on bribery and embezzlement charges linked to the Park corruption case.

The National Intelligence Service (NIS), the country's spy agency, is believed to have delivered secret operation fund to Lee's office at his behest through his closest aides, some of whom already admitted the allegation.

"We will treat the former president with dignity but we will conduct a thorough and transparent probe", a senior prosecutor told journalists.

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