Seoul Prosecutors Request Five-Year Sentence for Ex-Justice Minister Cho Kuk

SEOUL - In a significant development during an appellate trial on Monday, prosecutors sought a five-year prison term for former Justice Minister Cho Kuk. The trial, held at the Seoul High Court, revolves around charges of academic fraud and misuse of influence in a corruption case.

According to Yonhap News Agency, Cho Kuk is accused of using his position to secure academic advantages for his children and interfering with an investigation into a corruption case. In addition to the prison term, prosecutors have also requested a fine of 12 million won (approximately US$9,200) and the forfeiture of 6 million won, maintaining the same sentence demanded in the first trial.

The prosecution detailed that Cho committed academic fraud by exploiting his rights and networks. They also emphasized that Cho's alleged interference in a corruption inspection was a serious abuse of power and a betrayal of the president's trust. However, they noted that Cho has shown no remorse for his actions.

Cho was initially indicted in 2019 on multiple charges, including the falsification of documents to facilitate his children's admission to universities and graduate schools, and receiving bribes worth 6 million won disguised as a scholarship for his daughter. Additionally, he faced charges of abusing his power as a presidential aide to halt an inspection into bribery allegations involving a former vice mayor of Busan.

In February of this year, the Seoul Central District Court found Cho guilty of most charges, sentencing him to two years in prison and ordering the forfeiture of 6 million won. Cho, a prominent former law professor at Seoul National University, served as the senior presidential secretary for civil affairs from 2017 to 2019 during Moon Jae-in's administration. He was appointed as the justice minister in September 2019 but resigned about a month later amid the unfolding scandal.

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