Moon unlikely to grant pardon before leaving office: officials

Outgoing President Moon Jae-in is not expected to carry out a pardon before his five-year term ends on May 9, Cheong Wa Dae officials said Monday.

Moon has long deliberated over whether to exercise his power to grant pardons on the occasion of Buddha's Birthday on May 8 but eventually decided not to do so, the officials said.

Speculation has recently risen in political circles that Moon may grant his last pardon in office to former President Lee Myung-bak, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, former Justice Minister Cho Kuk's wife, Chung Kyung-sim, and former South Gyeongsang Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo.

"I don't know anything about a pardon by President Moon," a senior Cheong Wa Dae official told Yonhap News by phone. "There has been no official discussion on the matter."

Political watchers also say chances of additional pardons by Moon have diminished in consideration of time constraints, as the Ministry of Justice has not begun any relevant screening ahead of Tuesday's Cabinet meeting, the last one to be presided over by the outgoing president.

They said negative public opinions about Moon granting pardons to controversial figures just days before the end of his term may have affected his decision.

Moon said last week that he would determine whether to pardon former President Lee after taking judicial justice and public consensus into consideration.

According to a poll of 1,012 adults released by the Korea Society Opinion Institute earlier in the day, 51.7 percent are against pardoning Lee, who is serving a 17-year prison term for embezzlement and bribery.

The poll also found 56.9 percent and 57.2 percent oppose granting pardons to Kim and Chung, respectively, though a pardon of Samsung's Lee was supported by 68.8 percent.

Source: Yonhap News Agency