SEOUL -- Prosecutors demanded a 20-year jail sentence for South Korea's jailed ex-president Lee Myung-bak on corruption, abuse of power, embezzlement and other charges, saying he deserves strict punishment for deceiving the public.
Lee, who served as president from 2008 to early 2013, was arrested in March. He has asserted his innocence, arguing prosecutors brought charges based on unreliable evidence.
In Thursday's hearing, prosecutors also requested a fine of 15 billion won ($13 million) and a forfeiture of 11.1 billion won. Lee was indicted for taking bribes totaling about 11.1 billion won, along with charges of tax evasion, breach of trust and abuse of power. He was also accused of shipping thousands of documents out of the presidential office.
"I have to be responsible for my mistakes, but what I did as a president should be judged fairly," Lee said in a statement, insisting he has never received bribes during his five-year tenure. "I have never received money unfairly or used my position to pursue private interests."
Lee, 76, has described himself as the victim of political retaliation for the death of his predecessor, Roh Moo-hyun, who threw himself off a mountain cliff in 2009 following a humiliating probe into alleged corruption involving his family.
At the center of debate has been DAS, an auto parts supplier for Hyundai Motor. Prosecutors said Lee is the real owner of DAS and used it to create a slush fund, although the ex-president insisted the company was owned and managed by his brother for more than 30 years.
Prosecutors said Lee allegedly embezzled about 34.9 billion won from DAS for his political campaign and personal life and took bribes from businessmen in return for favors and an illegal payment of some 700 million won from South Korea's spy agency. Samsung Electronics allegedly provided $5.85 million to support a lawsuit in the United States on behalf of DAS.
Lee became the country's fourth national leader to stand trial. His conservative successor, Park Geun-hye, is on trial for her role in a massive corruption scandal.
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