Lawmakers Suh Chung-won, Yang Jeong-rye and Kim Noh-sik lost their parliamentary seats yesterday after the Supreme Court upheld their convictions for taking illegal political donations in the general elections last year.
The ruling increased the number of lawmakers in the 18th National Assembly who lost seats by the courts upholding of convictions to nine. This also cut the number of lawmakers in the National Assembly from 299 to 296 and spots of the pro-Park faction, or lawmakers loyal to former ruling Grand National Party Chairwoman Park Geun-hye, from eight to five in the party.
Under election law, if a proportional representative loses his or her seat because of an election violation, the vacant seat cannot be filled by other members of a negotiation group with which the ousted lawmaker is affiliated.
The Supreme Court upheld the sentence of 18 months in prison for Suh, a key member of the pro-Park alliance. He was convicted for taking illegal political donations worth 3.2 billion won (2.5 million U.S. dollars) from Yang and Kim in return for giving them proportional seats.
Kims one-year sentence and Yangs 10-month sentence were also upheld with a two-year suspension. Yang`s mother Kim Soon-ae was sentenced to one year in prison for offering bribes to Suh on behalf of her daughter.
A lawmaker loses his or her seat if fined more than one million won (789 dollars) for election violations. With the ruling, the Seoul Central Prosecutors Office will arrest Suh, Kim and Yangs mother.
Giving and receiving money for nomination in the general elections deprives various members of society opportunities to run for parliament but also undermines fairness and transparency of the candidate nomination process. So such an act should be harshly punished, the ruling said.
The Supreme Court, however, struck down a fine of 1.5 million won (1,180 dollars) handed down against ruling party lawmaker Ahn Hyong-hwan. Ahn was indicted for holding illegal assemblies of party members and manipulating his academic credentials.
The top court said assembly of party members is not illegal.
Main opposition Democratic Party lawmaker Kim Chun-jin and ruling party lawmaker Park Sang-eun retained their parliamentary seats.
The Supreme Court handed down a six-month deferred sentence for Kim, who was indicted for receiving 10 million won (7,900 dollars) from the Korean Dental Association.
Park was fined four million won (3,160 dollars) for refusing to take a sobriety test.