Former South Korean Judge Receives Reduced Sentence From Bribery Conviction

John Kim, Nov. 6, 2015, 8:21 a.m.

An appeals court on Friday delivered a three-year jail term to a former judge who was convicted of taking bribes from a private money lender in return for legal favors. Overruling a lower court's decision, the Seoul High Court acknowledged that Choi Min-ho accepted only 168 million won (US$147,600), reduced from the 268 million won he was originally convicted of receiving. The court ordered him to forfeit the money.

The 43-year-old, who worked at the Suwon District Court in the Seoul suburb, was convicted of amassing the kickbacks between 2009 and 2011 in exchange for helping a notorious loan shark receive reduced sentences for crimes related to drugs and blackmailing. "Due to the defendant's crime, the trust in the legal system has been severely damaged," Judge Choe Jae-hyeong said.

The usurer has had multiple trials between 2008 and 2012. He had been acquitted of several drug-related charges during this period. Choi resigned from office while under prosecutors' investigation. It marks the first time in eight years that a sitting judge was charged with bribery. The last time was in 2006, when a Seoul High Court judge faced similar charges.


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