UPDATE : 2018.1.17 WED 16:17
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Prosecutors expected to seek heavy sentence for Samsung heir in appeals trial

Prosecutors were set on Wednesday to present their demand for the punishment of Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong in the last session of his appellate trial.

The 49-year-old scion of South Korea's largest conglomerate received a five-year jail term on Aug. 25 on the conviction of five charges including bribery, embezzlement and hiding assets overseas.

He was found guilty of providing 8.82 billion won (US$8.19 million) in bribes to Choi Soon-sil, a longtime friend and confidante of former President Park Geun-hye.

Four former top Samsung executives -- Choi Gee-sung, former head of Samsung's now-disbanded control tower Future Strategy Office; his former deputy Chang Choong-ki; Park Sang-jin, a former president of Samsung Electronics; and another former President Hwang Sung-soo -- were also convicted of similar charges and sentenced to four years in prison or suspended terms. They have all appealed the rulings.

Special Counsel Park Young-soo in charge of the case had demanded 12 years for Lee and seven to 10 years for the four executives. He is expected to demand heavy sentences for Lee this time again.

The prosecution accused Lee and the other defendants in involvement in offering or promising 43.3 billion won of bribes to Park and Choi to win government support for a key merger of two Samsung units. The merger was seen as vital to his control of the business group in order to inherit the leadership from his ailing father Lee Kun-hee.

The lower court did not acknowledge as bribes part of the money including the group's donation of some 20.4 billion won to the two foundations allegedly controlled by Choi and 13.5 billion won which were not actually provided.

The defendants argued that they only accepted Park's demands for fear of retaliation and never sought any government favors in return.

Lee was arrested in February. Park and Choi are standing separate trials over a string of charges in connection with the scandal that ultimately led to Park's ouster in March. (Yonhap)

This photo, taken on Dec. 22, 2017, shows Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, detained over bribery charges in connection with a scandal involving former President Park Geun-hye, walking toward the courthouse to attend his appeal in southern Seoul. (Yonhap)

Kim Jung-mi  edt@koeapost.com

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