Samsung heir apparent released after 353 days in prison
Samsung Electronics vice chair is no longer behind bars.
This follows an appeals court decision to drastically slash Lee Jae-yong's sentence for bribery.
Cha Sang-mi has the latest on the case linked to a scandal that brought down a president.
"After almost a year behind bars... Samsung Group's heir apparent Lee Jae-yong walked free on Monday after his original sentence was suspended. It was also reduced to 2-and-a-half years, and Lee will spend 4 years on probation."
The de facto leader of Korea's largest conglomerate had been sentenced to five-years in prison in late August 2017 for giving eight-point-one million U.S. dollars to former President Park Geun-hye and her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil, offered as a form of sponsorship for Choi's then dressage-rider daughter Chung Yoo-ra.
A special prosecutors' team had demanded a twelve-year jail term for the 50-year-old billionaire on the charges at the time.
The appeals court, however, overturned the lower court's ruling, and reduced Lee's sentence. The court said that Samsung hadn't made any "explicit or implicit request" for government backing of a merger of two Samsung business units, a process deemed vital for his leadership succession and a charge of hiding assets overseas.
Four former Samsung executives also had their sentences commuted by the court.
Lee was first indicted in February last year on five charges related to his alleged role in the corruption scandal, including bribery, embezzlement, and illegally transferring assets overseas.
After the appeals court's verdict on Monday, attention now turns to the ruling on former President Park Geun-hye.