A trial involving Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong resumed on Oct. 26, a day after his bed-ridden father died. Depending on the verdict of the court, Vice Chairman Lee runs the risks of returning to jail. Photo courtesy of Samsung Electronics

Samsung heir did not appear in court due to funeral

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong saw his trial on bribery charges restart on Oct. 26, just a day after his ailing father of Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee died.

The Seoul High Court resumed the trial for Vice Chairman Lee’s alleged involvement in a bribery and corruption scandal, which eventually imprisoned former President Park Geun-hye.

Originally, the court ordered Vice Chairman Lee to appear at the preliminary hearing session, but he opted not to do so because of the funeral of his father.

Chairman Lee Kun-hee died on Oct. 25 after being hospitalized for six years _ he collapsed in 2014 due to a heart attack and failed to regain his consciousness since then.

In early 2017, Vice Chairman Lee served time for bribing the now-impeached President Park, who is accused of helping Lee strengthen his grip over the Samsung Group.

Lee was sentenced to five years in jail. But he was released in 2018 after an appeals court suspended the sentence. In another twist, the Supreme Court overturned the verdict last year.

The case went back to the high court for review. But the trial has been suspended since this January as an independent counsel requested the replacement of the judge.

The counsel contended that the judge was biased toward the accused. But the request was turned down, so that the trial restarted this week.

Depending on the decision of the court, Vice Chairman Lee runs the risks of returning to jail.