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South Korea ex-president targeted by bribery probe dies in apparent suicide

[JURIST] Former South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] apparently committed suicide Saturday by leaping off a 30-foot cliff. Roh and members of Roh's family were under investigation [UPI report] by the Republic of Korea's Supreme Prosecutor's Office [official website] for allegedly accepting bribes while in office. A spokesperson for South Korea's Ministry of Justice [official website] announced [Korea Times report] that the investigation would not continue following Roh's death. Roh left a note [Korea Herald report] stating he did not want to burden the lives of those around him. Current South Korean President Lee Myung-bak [official website] offered his condolences [press release] to his predecessor's family.

Earlier this month Roh's brother Roh Gun-pyeong was fined [Korea Herald report] and sentenced to four years in jail for bribery. Two other Roh associates were found guilty at the same trial. Both were fined, and one received a three year sentence while the other received a three year suspended sentence. On April 30 prosecutors questioned [Korea Times report] the former president, suspecting him of having taken up to $6 million in bribes from Park Yeon-cha, a financial supporter who is also CEO of a shoe manufacturing company. Roh admitted that his wife had received $1 million from Park, but said the money was a loan rather than a bribe. Roh became president in 2003 after campaigning heavily against corruption.

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