Posted January. 12, 2005 23:00,
A total of 70 out of 73 lawmakers indicted for violations of election law in the process of three general elections since 1993 have been ruled guilty. However, only 20 (28.6 percent) were fined 1 million won or more, which is equivalent to an annulment of the elections.
Only four lawmakers among the 70, who were found guilty, were sentenced to imprisonment. A total of 60 of the other 66 were fined, and six received suspended sentences.
A total of 44 lawmakers among the 60 were fined less than 1 million won and allowed to remain in their positions. They received 686,363 won fines on average. In general, drivers with a blood-alcohol level of 0.10 percent or higher lose their drivers licenses, and those with 0.16 percent or higher are fined between 1 million won to 3 million won. In that regard, the lawmakers who violated the election law received lighter punishment than drunk drivers.
Some of the lawmakers prison sentences were commuted to fines, and five to 10 million won fines handed down by the first court were, in many cases, reduced to 1 million won or less by the appeals court.
Another issue is that lawsuits on election irregularities often become meaningless as they take quite a long time (one year to as long as three-to-four years) to be settled. For example, in October 2000, Kim Yun-sik, the then lawmaker of the Millennium Democratic Party, was indicted for violations of election law in the 2000 general election. However, the Supreme Court established his guilt as late as December 2003, only five months before finishing his term.
In cases of political fund law violations, things are not very different from those of election law violations. A total of 17 lawmakers have been indicted for violations of political fund law for the last 12 years, and only five of them were sentenced to imprisonment while most of them were fined or sentenced to probation. Even among the five who received prison sentences, two were released by pardon.