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S Korea court grants bail for ex-president Lee

Jailed former South Korean president Lee Myung-bak was granted bail on Wednesday, nearly a year after he was arrested over corruption charges.

The CEO-turned president, who served from 2008 to 2013, was found guilty on charges including bribery and embezzlement and sentenced to 15 years in prison last October.

But the Seoul High Court approved the request for bail that the 77-year-old Lee made on the grounds of ill health, the South’s Yonhap news agency reported.

Lee made the request in January citing old age and potential health complications from diabetes and sleep apnea.

Lee was found guilty of creating slush funds of tens of millions of dollars and accepting bribes from Samsung Electronics in return for a presidential pardon for its chairman Lee Kun-hee, who was jailed for tax evasion.

The conservative politician has denied wrongdoing and labelled the allegations as “political revenge”.

South Korean presidents have a tendency to end up in prison after their time in power, usually once their political rivals have moved into the presidential Blue House.

All four of South Korea’s living presidents have been convicted of criminal offences.

Lee’s successor, Park Geun-hye, was sentenced to 25 years in prison and fined millions of dollars for bribery and abuse of power.

She was ousted in 2017 over a nationwide corruption scandal that prompted massive street protests.

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