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Mayors and Governors, In Court Now

Posted November. 22, 2002 22:49,   


Due to the violations of the Election Law, more and more local executive heads are resigning or being substituted for by their lieutenants.

According to the Ministry of Administration and Self-government and other localities, currently 26 cases are pending in court against local heads for various violations of the Election Law. Among them, heads of 4 local governments such as Gongju City in Choongnam, Eumsung County in Choongbook, Jangsoo County in Chunbook and Yoo-sung District in Daejun City have resigned or been ordered by the court not to run the local governments. Therefore, their lieutenants have operated the localities.

23 of the local governors and mayors were charged with direct violation of the Election Law. Another 2 were charged with bribery, and yet another one is accused of embezzlement.

Under the revised Election Law, however, if an elected official receives a punishment more than a fine, he or she will automatically lose the privileges and cannot operate the local government. Therefore, more and more localities are expected to watch their executive heads, who took office in July, replaced with Lt. governors or deputy mayors.

On the other hands, some governors and mayors are resigning voluntarily. In case that the penalty to be imposed is more than fining, their selections will be nullified. Thus, in order to run again in the expected by-elections, they are leaving office before the sentencing is rendered.

Under the current law, conviction of a family member or a campaign worker of a candidate turned official is deemed as the conviction of the official him/herself. The law, however, does not prohibit an elected official from resigning before the sentencing, and from running again, since resignation itself nullifies the cause of action against the elected in the criminal court.

For example, Choi Yong-deuk, the former head of Chang-soo County, resigned on Nov. 18th. His wife was indicted on the charge of bribery. She allegedly gave voters \3.5 million to buy their votes. Later, the Kwangjoo High Court found her guilty and imposed a 2-year suspended sentence upon her on Nov. 14th. Then, she appealed to the Supreme Court. In order to run again in the by-election scheduled for Dec. 19th, Choi resigned prior to the Supreme Court`s denying her the certiorari.

Yoon Wan-jung, ex-mayor of Gongjoo City, also resigned on Nov. 21st, five months after taking office. He was charged with election violations of running illegal campaign organizations and bribing voters. Later on Nov. 5th, the court found him guilty and rendered him a two-year suspended sentence.

In addition, Lee Gun-yong, former head of Eumsung County, was arrested and indicted in July for brining the electoral college of Grand National Party. Later he got sentenced to one and a half years. Therefore, his job was automatically suspended. On appeal, the sentence was reduced to a suspended one. Now, his case is pending with the Supreme Court.

Lee Byung-ryong (55), who ran Yoo-sung District, was sentenced to 2 years in suspension. With Lee prohibited from running the locality, his lieutenant is now acting for Lee.

In the meanwhile, the residents in Guhjae and Tongyong whose executive heads are facing trials, are demanding that the trials be held soon, since their absence causes malfunction of the local governments.