Prosecution presents additional charge against Seungri

In this March 14, 2019, file photo, Seungri, center, member of a popular K-pop boy band Big Bang, arrives at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency in Seoul, South Korea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

Lee Seung Hyun, best known as Seungri, had a new charge of eliciting violence added during his 7th hearing on January 14 at the Ground Operations Command’s General Military Court in Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do. 

Seungri, a retired BigBang member, has been the subject of a prolonged criminal investigation and was brought to trial on eight indictments. With the adoption of the new charge, he will have nine indictments. The Defense has denied the charge.

The new charge arose from an incident that took place on December 30, 2015. The Prosecution revealed that a drunk customer at a drinking establishment intruded into Seungri’s private room. An argument ensued, and another customer became involved. At this point, Seungri informed Yoo In-Suk of the escalating situation via his group chat.

Yoo is accused of calling a gang member of his acquaintance, arriving at the scene where they called the customers into the back alley, cursed them, pulled their arms, or threatened to take their cell phones.

The Prosecution added eliciting violence with gang involvement to Seungri, alleging they were in cahoots. The Prosecution states, “The defendant, Lee Seung Hyun (Seungri), conspired with Yoo In-Suk to threaten the victims in an overt display of power (force).” They concluded, “Therefore, we indicted (Seungri) as an instigating co-conspirator.” 

His lawyer, Son Byung-ho, denied the charge and has stated that he will submit his response to the court after reviewing the details of the charge. At the next hearing, the Defense will formally present their response to this new indictment. 

An Act of Desperation?

This charge has no relation to any of Seungri’s previous indictments. However, Yoo In-Suk was also involved, thus it appears that Yoo committed an act, and again, Seungri is being held accountable by the association.

This new charge raises many questions which the Prosecution has not answered. What are the factual circumstances of the alleged crime? What exactly was the content of the message? What did Seungri do exactly? What were his words? What were his actions? What were his intentions?

For Seungri to be held criminally liable, he must have committed an act of furtherance to incite and collude with Yoo to commit violence. The circumstance must strongly corroborate intent, commands, induces, or other endeavors to persuade a person or group of people to engage in conduct that uses or threatens the use of physical violence.

Bringing this new charge at this stage of his trial appears to be for the sole reason of needing another indictment to stack the deck against Seungri. Criminal Charge Stacking is a prosecution tactic used both in South Korea and the USA to stack up as many charges against a defendant as possible in hopes at least one charge will stick.

Charge Stacking is beneficial to the Prosecution as a tool to get a conviction because the more charges a defendant has, the harder it is for them to fight against the alleged charges and walk away without an indictment. 

Given how the trial had been proceeding unfavorably for the Prosecution, the new charge makes one question the Prosecution. Was this Charge Stacking an act of desperation on the Prosecution’s part whose case has been less than overwhelming?

Witnesses’ statements favor Seungri

Based upon the past six hearings, witnesses and evidence supported Seungri’s claims of innocence (refer to BM article’s covering Seungri’s trial). He has never wavered in maintaining his innocence, remained transparent at every stage of his case, and cooperated with the authorities. His trial is currently taking place, and he has completed seven hearings, including today.

Similarly, the January 14 hearing raised significant doubts as witnesses 1 and 2 did not have knowledge of connections to Seungri (concerning prostitution). 

Witness 1(Madam), an old acquaintance of Seungri and Yoo In-Seok, asked Witness 2 (Worker), an entertainment business worker, to send women (prostitutes) upon Yoo In Seok’s instructions.

Regarding the Christmas party between December 2015 and January 2016, Witness 1 revealed. “I received an offer from Yoo In-Seok a few days before the party.” Witness 2 testified, “An older sister, whom I know (a reference to Witness 1), said that our regular customer’s best friend is visiting from Japan and invited her pretty friends to have fun together.” Thus, she sent several women to Gangnam bars and restaurants. Furthermore, she said she never mentioned prostitution or sexual relations clearly, but she also thought prostitution could happen.

Witness 1 said, “Because it was Yoo In-Seok’s request, I cooperated without refusing it.” Witness 2 claimed she did not know who gave the order. She stated, “I didn’t hear any explanation of who sent it or who it was sent to.”

Witness 2 addressed the payment, “I don’t remember because it took place five years ago. There is no mention of prostitution on the account, but I sincerely participated in the investigation by the investigative agency…”

The Prosecution then questioned the details of the money exchange. Witness 2 stated, “… my sister (a reference to Witness 1) gave it in deferred payment, and later the money came in under a name I don’t know. I thought (the named) was my sister’s acquaintance.” Witness 2 identified Yoo In-Seok as the name on the bank deposit. “I never got it (payment) from the defendant (Seungri)”.

Significantly, Witness 1 statement clarified that while she had developed an acquaintanceship with Seungri, she had never discussed prostitution with him, and he had never asked for prostitution. She stated, “I didn’t want to talk about that (prostitution) with Seungri.” She wanted to maintain a clean relationship with him. Adding, “Because I’m friends with Seungri, I talked about trendy things, and I didn’t want to talk dirty.” 

Both Prosecution’s Witness 1 and Witness 2 repeatedly testified that they did not know of Seungri’s involvement and instead pointed to Yoo In-Seok.

The weak evidence and witness testimonies favoring the Defense made it difficult for the Prosecution to make a case of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt for the charges related to Prostitution Mediation.

Seungri’s other indictments include 1.Prostitution (For self); 2. Prostitution Mediation (For others between Dec 2015-Jan 2016); 3.Embezzlement (hiring legal representative fee); 4.Embezzlement (528 million won involving Burning Sun revenues); 5.Violation of Food Sanitation Act (involving Monkey Museum wrongfully registering business) 6. Habitual Gambling (Las Vegas gambling); 7. Distributing Obscene Material/Shooting using camera (single photo of pornographic nature) and 8. Violation of the Foreign Exchange Transactions Act(illegal monetary exchange).

  1. Thank you Sabah. I’m waiting to see when they will add the charge n. 10: I’ve a feeling that in 2005 he ate an apple. Yes, I’m quite sure…. I think so. …I’ve a feeling…

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