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Samsung heir appears in court as retrial begins in bribery case

Samsung Group’s vice-chairman and the de facto chief Lee Jae-yong appeared in Seoul’s High Court on Friday as the retrial in the high-profile corruption scandal began in the country’s capital. South Korea’s top court ordered this retrial in August this year, overturning parts of the ruling by the lower court that went in Lee’s favor.

“I feel very sorry that I caused concerns to many people,” Lee told the press (via Reuters) before entering the court amidst protests from some citizens demanding his arrest.

During the hearing, presiding judge Jung Joon-young said the case pertains to a crime planned and committed by the high-ranking officials in the conglomerate and that an effective monitoring system could have prevented it. “Please take this trial with an attitude to humbly accept whatever results of the trial will be,” the judge told Lee before wrapping up the hearing.

Samsung heir’s lawyers said they will not fight the top court’s decision and will only ask for leniency in sentencing. The next hearings in the case are scheduled for November 22 and December 6.

Lee Jae-yong was sentenced to five years in prison in 2017 by a lower court for paying bribes to Choi, a longtime friend and confidant of impeached former president Park Geun-hye. He spent nearly a year in jail before the Seoul High Court reduced his sentence by half and suspended it for four years. It was parts of this verdict that the Supreme Court disagreed with and ordered a retrial.

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