June 30, 2005

Olympics: Former IOC vice-president Kim paroled

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea paroled former InternationalOlympic Committee (IOC) vice-president Kim Un-yong on Thursday,a year after he was found guilty of corruption.

Long one of the most powerful figures in the Olympicmovement, Kim was sentenced last June to 2- years in prisonfor embezzling some 3.3 billion won ($3.20 million) andaccepting 788 million won in kickbacks while serving as thehead of international sports organizations.

The sentence was later reduced to two years on appeal.

Kim, 74, looking somewhat haggard with a white patchcovering one eye, left the Seoul Detention Center and was metby supporters. He was quickly whisked away in a waiting car anddid not speak to reporters.

"The decision on parole was based on a thorough review ofthe case, taking into consideration factors such as age andhealth," a spokesman from the Justice Ministry said on Monday.

Kim had about 10 months of his sentence remaining.

Kim resigned his post at the IOC in May in the face of anexpulsion vote slated for July.

The IOC's decision-making executive board agreed this yearwith an ethics commission report that Kim had "seriouslytarnished the reputation of the Olympic movement."

Kim has always denied the charges against him.

At one time considered a candidate to run the IOC, Kim wasarrested while in hospital on charges connected with hisleadership of the South Korean National Olympic Committee andthe World Taekwondo Federation.

When he was sentenced, his lawyer said his actions andbusiness conduct were rooted in South Korea's dictatorshipperiod of the 1970s and 1980s and it was unfair to judge him bypresent-day values. ($1=1031.0 won)