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Why did Seoul education chief receive heavy sentence invalidating his election victory?

Why did Seoul education chief receive heavy sentence invalidating his election victory?

Posted April. 25, 2015 07:24,   


Cho Hee-yeon, superintendent of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, stayed at a court for a long while after receiving a guilty sentence that would nullify his election as Seoul`s education chief. Before the trial, he smiled at reporters, telling them they were having a hard time covering his story. The change of attitude suggests how much he was shocked by his sentence.

Before handing the sentence, the chief judge said Cho could be sentenced up to four and a half years in prison considering the law calling for harsher punishments on certain cases including Cho`s, sparking speculations that the education chief could be detained by the court and suggesting the gravity of Cho`s charges.

Some critics say that considering lawmakers facing the same charges receive much lighter punishments and maintain their seats at the National Assembly, the sentence on Cho was "too harsh." The spread of groundless rumors are subject to different punishments, depending on whether the purpose was to promote oneself or to diminish others.

Although Chung Mong-joon, a former lawmaker of the Saenuri Party, was found guilty of making false campaign pledges of housing redevelopment in Seoul in 2008, he was sentenced to a fine small enough to maintain his seat in the parliament. Punishments of elected officials who told lies about their backgrounds during their campaigns are in the same vein. The election law stipulates that such elected officials are subject to up to five years in prison or a fine of up to 30 million won (27,798 U.S. dollars), making it possible for a court to deliver a sentence of less than 1 million won (927 dollars) in fine. Those who are sentenced to 1 million won or more for illegal campaigning get their election victory invalidated.