Samsung heir's prison life: 7 hours of TV on an LG screen, $1.75 meals

PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL- Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong's new home is a cell measuring 68 square feet-roughly half the size of a standard US parking space-and equipped with a foldable mattress, table, chair, sink, toilet and an LG television.

The vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co. wears a khaki jumpsuit and uses a communal shower, according to an official at the Seoul detention centre where he is being held. He eats alone in his cell, his three meals-usually rice, soup and a handful of side dishes-valued at about US$1.25 (S$1.75) each and adding up to a daily total of some 2,500 calories. He must wash his own utensils.

Mr. Lee is allowed to watch television for seven hours on weekdays and 11 hours on weekends, though just one channel of preapproved programs, the official said. There is one programme not preapproved: The nightly news, which of late has often featured detailed reports on his own legal predicament.

The 48-year-old can leave his cell three times a day: 30 minutes for exercise, a 10-minute visitor's session, and to shower. He is limited to one visitor a day, other than his lawyers, who have unrestricted access.

Mr. Lee has been kept away from other inmates even outside his cell, said the Seoul detention centre official, citing safety concerns.

Choi accused of interfering in state affairs using relationship with President

  • The woman at the centre of a corruption scandal that triggered the biggest political crisis for a generation in South Korea appeared in court Monday for a preliminary hearing in her trial on fraud charges.
  • It was the first public appearance since October for Choi Soon-Sil, who has been dubbed Korea’s “female Rasputin” for the influence she wielded over the now-impeached president, Park Geun-Hye.
  • Sporting black-rimmed glasses and a surgical mask that obscured her face, Choi, who has been in custody for the past seven weeks, was brought to the Seoul Central District Court in a special prison bus.
  • Television footage showed her handcuffed and wearing a blue-grey prison outfit with a serial number on the chest as she was taken off the bus and led into the court building by a female guard.
  • The 60-year-old faces trial on charges of embezzlement and abuse of power – largely related to huge “donations” made by conglomerates to two dubious foundations she controlled and allegedly plundered.
  • A long-time friend of Park’s, Choi is accused of using her leverage with the president to strong-arm the companies into handing over tens of millions of dollars.
  • Accusations that Park colluded with Choi formed the basis of an impeachment motion against the president that was passed by parliament earlier this month.
  • The motion is now being considered by the Constitutional Court which has up to 180 days to make a ruling on whether to endorse or reject the president’s ouster.
  • The last time Choi was seen in public was in late October when she attended a summons at the Seoul prosecutor’s office and famously lost a much-photographed Prada shoe in the media scrum outside the building.
  • Choi was not obliged to turn up for Monday’s hearing, which was largely procedural and focused on preparing the way for the trial proper.
  • “She has expressed a willingness to participate sincerely in the trial,” Lee was quoted as saying by the Yonhap news agency.
  • But her lawyer, Lee Kyung-Jae, said she had volunteered to appear.
  • Choi was criticised for refusing to attend the hearings of a parliamentary committee investigating the scandal.
  • Park is also accused of ordering aides to leak confidential state documents to Choi, who has no official title or security clearance, and allowing her to meddle in some state affairs, including the appointment of top officials.
  • Choi Soon-sil, accused of interfering in state affairs using her relationship with President Park Geun-hye, arrived at the Supreme Prosecutors' Office building in Seoul on Monday to face questioning over her alleged influence peddling.
  • Choi, a longtime confidante and shaman-like adviser to Park, had returned to Seoul on Sunday from Europe, capping a week of turmoil that led to a massive anti-government rally over the weekend.
  • Choi, a private citizen with no position in making policy, will be investigated over allegations of taking advantage of her political ties with President Park and coercing conglomerates to donate money to two foundations she controls.
  • She is also accused of seeking academic favors from professors at Ewha Womans University for her daughter Chung Yoo-ra.

Read the full article here

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