PtG Article 22.12.2006

Business organisations want amnesty for suspended IOC member

Park Yong-Sung who was suspended from the International Olympic Committee earlier this year after being convicted of fraud in South Korea could be involved in a last minute attempt to save his seat on the IOC. His name is on a list of convicts whom the South Korean president is said to consider for an amnesty.

Park Yong-Sung is the president of the International Judo Federation and therefore a member of the IOC. In February 2006 he was convicted of embezzlement and fraud by a court in South Korea and given a three year suspended jail sentence and fined the equivalent of 8.2 million US dollars. The IOC Ethics Commission subsequently suspended Park’s membership but a final decision has been deferred to March 2007.

According to the Korea Times, Park now wants to devote himself to ”promoting Korea’s national prestige through sports diplomacy”. That may explain why his name appears on a list of convicted business men that local business organisations are asking the president to pardon. It is believed that a pardon will greatly affect the outcome of the IOC’s final decision.

Park’s name appears alongside those of 50 other business men who have been convicted of accounting fraud or violated the law on funding of political campaigns.

The amnesty campaign is spearheaded by organisations like the Federation of Korean Industries and the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In a letter to the president they say that it is ”time to reboot entrepreneurship in South Korea”, writes the Korean Yonhap news agency.

According to the news agency AP, the South Korean government will not issue any amnesties to mark Christmas.

Presidential spokesman Yoon Tai-young said there was not enough time to review the cases. He did not say when the next presidential pardon might come. South Korea issues special presidential amnesties a couple of times a year to mark major national holidays or anniversaries.