A Seoul district court on Thursday handed down prison terms for two former party campaign officials of the minor opposition People's Party for fabricating a tip-off about President Moon Jae-in's son in the runup to the May presidential election this year.
The Seoul Southern District Court sentenced Lee Joon-seo, former senior party official and Lee You-mi, former campaigner for the party's then presidential contender Ahn Cheol-soo, to eight months and a year in prison, respectively, for violating election law and spreading false information.
Prosecutors have demanded two years for the two defendants.
The court also handed down monetary punishment for Kim Seong-ho and Kim In-won, who were with the party's election panel at the time, for failing to verify the information before making it public. They were fined 10 million won (US$9,242) and 5 million won each.
They were indicted in July for disclosing disinformation about the back door hiring of Moon Joon-yong by a public agency in 2006. The People's Party made the revelation three days before the election, accusing Moon, then the presidential front-runner, of exerting influence on the hiring in his capacity as a presidential secretary under the previous Roh Moo-hyun administration.
The tip-off was released to the media in captured images of talks on a mobile messenger between Lee You-mi and a man claiming to be a friend of Moon's son, who was actually her brother. Lee admitted to concocting the evidence and handing it over to Lee Joon-seo, who then delivered it to party members.
Prosecutors have concluded that the party's leaders, including Ahn, were not involved in the scandal. But the fake tip-off brought the centrist party into its worst crisis yet just a little over a year after its launch. (Yonhap)
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