Opposition leader unable to attend trial over health concerns after stabbing attack: lawyer

Bomi Yoon

Rep. Lee Jae-myung, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea, speaks to reporters in front of Seoul National University Hospital, Wednesday, eight days after he underwent surgery on a knife wound sustained in an attack. Yonhap

Rep. Lee Jae-myung, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea, speaks to reporters in front of Seoul National University Hospital, Wednesday, eight days after he underwent surgery on a knife wound sustained in an attack. Yonhap

Opposition leader Lee Jae-myung will not be able to attend hearings in his corruption trial for the time being because he has yet to recover from a stabbing attack, his legal representative said Friday.

“It seems it will be hard (for Lee) to attend the trials for now,” Lee’s lawyer said during a preparatory hearing held at the Seoul Central District Court. “On the face of it, he seemed to have trouble even speaking.”

Lee is standing trial on breach of trust and other corruption charges connected to development projects in multiple districts in Seongnam, south of Seoul, arising from his term as mayor in the city years ago.

The court said the trial cannot attune to the DP leader’s schedule, adding it will go forward with witness examinations by bringing in one of the key suspects in the case, Yoo Dong-gyu, without Lee’s attending.

In principle, the defendant must be present in a criminal trial, but witness examinations can still be carried out in their absentia, and the defendant can later look into the report of the witness accounts.

The DP chairman was stabbed in the neck by a man in his 60s posing as an autograph-seeker during his visit to the southeastern port city of Busan on Jan. 2. He left the hospital on Wednesday, after undergoing surgery for a laceration to a major vein in his neck. (Yonhap)

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