Former South Korean president Lee Myung- bak was ordered back to prison Thursday as the country’s Supreme Court upheld a 17- year jail term for bribery and embezzlement offences.
The conservative Lee, who served as president from 2008 to 2013 , had been out on bail awaiting the ruling and was not in court for the decision, but police were seen at his Seoul home to take him away , according to reports.
The ruling is not subject to further appeal and at age 78 means Lee is likely to die in prison unless he receives a presidential pardon.
All four of South Korea ’s living former presidents are either behind bars or have served jail terms — often as a result of investigations begun under successors who are political rivals.
Lee was first convicted of embezzlement and accepting bribes in late 2018 and jailed . An appeals court later increased his sentence to 17 years but granted him bail pending a further appeal to the nation ’s highest court.
The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld his conviction for embezzling 25.2 billion won ($ 22 million ) and accepting bribes totalling 9 .4 billion won , as well as the 17 – year sentence.
Lee is also subject to a 13- billion – won fine and must forfeit assets of 5 .7 billion won.
“ There was no legal fallacy in the appellate court’s ruling on bribery and embezzlement,” the Supreme Court said in a statement .
Lee’s conservative successor Park Geun- hye is currently serving 20 years in jail for bribery and abuse of power after being ousted in 2017 over a corruption scandal that prompted massive street protests.
Another former leader, the liberal Roh Moo- hyun , took his own life after being questioned in a corruption probe involving his family — an inquiry that took place during Lee’s presidency.
Roh was the political mentor of incumbent President Moon Jae- in, who served in the Blue House throughout Roh ’s presidency, including a year as his chief of staff .