South Korean court rejects arrest warrant for opposition party leader on bribery charges

Lee Jae-myung

27th September 2023 – (Seoul) The Seoul Central District Court early on Wednesday denied an arrest warrant for the leader of the main opposition party in South Korea. Lee Jae-myung, who also ran for the presidency previously, had been facing charges of bribery and breach of duty. The court’s decision grants Lee a lifeline in his ongoing struggle for political survival.

Prosecutors had sought Lee’s arrest, alleging that there was a risk he might attempt to destroy evidence. However, the court ruled against the prosecutors, stating that there were insufficient grounds to support their argument.

As he walked out of a holding center shortly after the ruling, Lee expressed his appreciation for the court’s decision. He thanked the judiciary for demonstrating that it serves as the final stronghold for protecting human rights.

It’s important to note that the criminal charges against Lee have not been dropped. Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon clarified that the review of the arrest warrant is part of an ongoing process, and the court’s decision does not imply Lee’s innocence.

Throughout the case, Lee has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and accused the prosecutors of pursuing a politically motivated agenda against him. He referred to the allegations as “fiction” and a “political conspiracy.”

Notably, Lee staged a hunger strike lasting 24 days this month to demand that President Yoon Suk Yeol’s government address policy failures, including economic mismanagement and insufficient action to prevent Japan from releasing treated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant.

While the court’s decision provides temporary relief for Lee, the legal proceedings will continue. The case highlights the complex dynamics of South Korea’s political landscape and the ongoing battle for power and accountability within the nation’s leadership.