A South Korean court has refused to approve the arrest of an American citizen who once headed the local unit of a British company accused of selling deadly humidifier disinfectants.
State prosecutors this week had sought an arrest warrant for Google Korea CEO John Lee, who headed Oxy Reckitt Benckiser Korea from 2005 to 2010, on charges of involuntary manslaughter and injuries as well as false advertising.
After an examination of documents and testimonies late Thursday, a district court in Seoul turned down the request from prosecutors, citing lack of evidence. Lee has reportedly argued he was not aware of the toxicity of chemicals used in humidifier disinfectants.
Oxy has been at the center of the scandal that came to light after pregnant women died of serious lung ailment in 2011.
A dozen people have been charged including two college professors, accused of concocting research papers in return for money, and six from two major discount chains in the case that triggered a public health scare and a buyer's strike.
Government data showed 103 people, including dozens of pregnant women and infants, were presumed to have died after using humidifier disinfectants produced by Oxy and other companies. Consumer groups have accused Oxy of falsely advertising its products as safe.
Oxy has been widely vilified for covering up the harmfulness of its product. It is suspected of failing to conduct a safety test despite a warning from a German research center about the inhalation toxicity of chemicals such as poly hexamethylene guanidine.
Aju News Lim Chang-won = firstname.lastname@example.org
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