Posted January. 30, 2013 04:39,
Outgoing President Lee Myung-bak on Tuesday granted pardons to 55 people despite heavy criticism from his successor-to-be Part Geun-hye.
Two beneficiaries of the president`s action were Choi See-joong, former Korea Communications Commission chairman and a close political ally, and Chun Shin-il, chairman of Sejoong Namo Tour and a long-time friend. Both Choi and Chun were convicted of bribery.
In a Cabinet meeting at the presidential office, the president issued the amnesty after deliberation of the matter, saying, "The measure conforms to law and principles by forming a pardon review committee of many civilian members. This was a great leap forward from the procedures (of past administrations)."
President Lee said the number of political pardons this time was far fewer than those of past administrations, as he had pledged. He added that his government adhered to four key principles in selecting the amnesty beneficiaries: exclusion of the relatives of the chief executive and those involved in influence-peddling scandals that broke out since the launch of his administration, consideration of the contributions and social responsibility activities of smaller companies, and intent to resolve social conflicts.
Not so convinced was President-elect Park. Her spokeswoman Cho Yoon-sun issued a statement saying the next president expressed "great concern" over the amnesty. "The pardons ignored the people`s opinions and overstepped presidential authority, and will face harsh criticism by the public," the spokeswoman said. Yoon Chang-joong, spokesman of the presidential transition committee, had earlier said, "President Lee will have to bear all the responsibility."
Choi and Chun were exempted from serving sentence of 22 months and 13 months, respectively. Others benefiting from the pardons included former National Assembly Speaker Park Hee-tae, who was implicated in a bribery scandal involving the 2008 national convention of the former ruling Grand National Party, and former presidential secretary of state affairs Kim Hyo-jae.
Also given amnesty were Chang Gwang-gun, the spokesman of the ruling party`s presidential candidate in 2007, and Suh Chung-won, a former lawmaker close to President-elect Park.