Court rejected an arrest warrant for Samsung Group’s heir, made by the independent counsel team probing South Korea’s presidential scandal, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.
The Seoul court today dismissed the warrant to detain Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, which was requested on Monday by special prosecutors.
The marathon deliberation continued for almost 15 hours, as the court said it was hard at the present stage to acknowledge the necessity for arrest in view of a room for dispute over the quid-pro-quo that justifies the bribery case.
Lee, who had been waiting for the determination at the Seoul detention centre, will return home immediately.
The rejection indicated a lack of evidence on charges, which prosecutors levelled against the Samsung heir.
The charges include bribery, perjury and embezzlement.
He became the first member of Samsung’s founding family to face the arrest warrant in eight decades of history of the country’s largest family-controlled conglomerate.
Samsung was set up in March 1938.
Samsung’s founder Lee Byung-chul was investigated in 1966 for smuggling charges, but he was not punished.
His son Lee Kun-hee was sentenced in 1996 to a suspended two-year jail term for bribing politicians but was pardoned about 13 months later.
The 2008 suspended three-year prison term for his tax evasion also ended with presidential pardon the following year.
The arrest request for the third-generation heir has met again with concerns about the country’s most influential conglomerate and the South Korean economy.
The younger Lee has been in effect leading the business empire since his father Chairman Lee was hospitalised in May 2014 for heart attack.
Spokesman of the independent counsel team said Monday that its attempt to arrest the younger Lee was aimed to “establish justice” though it acknowledged possible effects on the South Korean economy.
It was part of efforts to eliminate the long-running collusion between politicians and businessmen, which may be partly rooted in the conglomerate led industrialisation under the military dictatorship that lasted for around three decades to the late 1980s.
The judicial authorities granted clemency once again to chaebol families for criminal charges.
The Samsung heir is suspected of being involved in South Korea’s biggest-ever bribery case, which prosecutors estimated at about 43 billion won (US$37 million).