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Court confirms 5 1/2-year prison sentence for key figure in sexual bribery scandal

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)
A local court confirmed a 5 1/2-year prison sentence for Yoon Jung-cheon, a construction contractor alluded in the sexual bribery scandal surrounding former Vice Justice Minister Kim Hak-ui.

The Seoul High Court on Friday confirmed the lower court’s prison sentence for Yoon, 59, on charges of fraud and bribery. Yoon has been at the center of a corruption and bribery scandal involving Kim.

The case gained attention after a video of a sex party surfaced. Kim, who retired from public service in March 2013, was suspected of having received sexual services and having raped women at a drunken orgy hosted by Yoon at his villa in Wonju, Gangwon Province, between 2006 and 2007.

Kim has denied all allegations and maintains he had not known Yoon, who said in an interview with a local TV network that the man in the video looked “similar” to the ex-vice minister.

The prosecution launched a special investigation team of 13 prosecutors in March last year amid growing public calls for a reinvestigation into the case. Prosecutors investigated the allegations twice -- in 2013 and 2014 -- but did not file any charges against Kim, citing lack of evidence.

After months of investigation, the construction contractor was indicted for regularly assaulting a woman surnamed Lee and forcing her to provide sexual services to influential figures including Kim from 2006 to 2007.

Yoon was also investigated for extorting 2.16 billion won ($1.75 million) from people seeking permits for construction projects. He was also suspected of taking 1.48 billion won from a real estate developer from 2008 to 2015 on the fraudulent promise of getting a permit for a golf resort.

Prosecutors demanded a 13-year prison sentence for Yoon as they saw the construction contractor as guilty of sexual crimes. But the Seoul High Court confirmed the lower court’s decision Friday that period of complaint has passed for the crimes in question.

Kim, who received sexual services in relation to the case, was cleared of all charges and walked free in November. A local court acknowledged that Kim did receive sexual services offered by Yoon but cited statute of limitations.

By Ko Jun-tae (ko.juntae@heraldcorp.com)
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