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.