Samsung leader gets jail parole, to be released on Friday

Samsung leader Lee Jae-yong, who was put in jail after being found guilty of bribery, has been granted parole and will be released from jail on Friday.

Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong will be released from prison on Friday after he was granted parole by the local justice ministry.

South Korea's Ministry of Justice on Monday decided to grant parole to Lee following a committee meeting that was held ahead of the country's Liberation Day holiday on August 15.

South Korea's justice system reviews and grants parole or pardons around Liberation Day for prisoners, which sometimes includes politicians and those involved in high-profile cases. 

Justice Minister Park Beom-kye said at a briefing that the decision to include Lee as a candidate for early release was done in light of the impact that the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic has had on the national and global economies.

Park said the parole committee reached its decision after reviewing "the current social atmosphere of South Korea as well his attitude and behaviour during incarceration".

Lee was one of 1,057 candidates up for parole this year around the Liberation Day holiday.

The Samsung Electronics vice chairman and de facto leader of the company was jailed for a second time in January this year. He was sentenced to two and a half years in prison by the Seoul High Court after being found guilty of bribing former South Korea President Park Geun-hye and her aide to gain government support for a merger between two Samsung affiliates.

Lee was first jailed in 2017 after being sentenced for the same charges by a district court. He was then freed the following year after an appellate court handed him a suspended sentence of two and a half years.

However, in 2019, the Supreme Court ordered a retrial after it found the appellate court dismissed some key evidence and charges against Lee. The Samsung leader was then jailed again after the conclusion of the retrial at the start of this year.

Though Lee has been set free, he still faces a separate trial for alleged stock price manipulation involving the two Samsung affiliates.

In April, Samsung announced that Lee and other family members of the late Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee will pay over 12 trillion won, or around $10.8 billion, in taxes related to inheritance. The family will pay the full amount over a period of five years in six instalments.

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