(LEAD) Deputy assembly speaker sentenced to 6 months in prison for defaming late President Roh

Deputy National Assembly Speaker Chung Jin-Suk was convicted Thursday of defaming the honor of late President Roh Moo-hyun with his derisive remarks about Roh’s tragic death.

Judge Park Byung-gon of the Seoul Central District Court sentenced the fifth-term lawmaker of the ruling People Power Party to six months in prison, a ruling heavier than the prosecution’s demand for a fine of 5 million won (US$3,793). He was not taken into custody immediately.

If the sentence is confirmed by the Supreme Court, Chung will lose his parliamentary seat.

The charges against Chung stem from a post he made on his Facebook account in September 2017, commenting on Roh’s suicide death in May 2009 amid a corruption investigation.

Chung claimed Roh’s wife, Kwon Yang-sook, and their son had received millions of dollars in bribes from a businessman close to the president.

He further claimed that following an investigation by the prosecution into the allegations, a domestic dispute ensued between the couple and she left their home. On that night, Roh, left alone, took his own life, Chung wrote.

Following his allegations, the bereaved family of Roh filed a complaint against Chung with the prosecution.

“The post constituted a malicious or very reckless attack and cannot be protected in the name of freedom of expression given its context and circumstances,” the judge said.

He noted that the bereaved family clearly expressed their desire for severe punishment against the defendant.

The judge also criticized the prosecution for investigating the case at an unreasonably slow pace.

Last September, five years after the complaint was lodged, the prosecution requested the court to impose a summary fine of 5 million won. But the court opted to bring the case to formal trial.

Source: Yonhap News Agency