By Kim Han-joo
SEOUL, Jan. 27 (Yonhap) -- Seoul's top education official was given a suspended prison term Friday for abusing his power in the reinstatement of fired teachers, a punishment heavy enough to result in the loss of his seat if confirmed by the Supreme Court.
The Seoul Central District Court sentenced Cho Hee-yeon, superintendent of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, to one year and six months in prison, suspended for two years, for abuse of power and violating the State Public Officials Act.
The progressive education chief was indicted on charges of exerting undue influence in reinstating five dismissed teachers, including former members of a teachers' labor union, in 2018. One of the five teachers helped Cho's election campaign in 2018 when he was reelected.
By law, an education official with a confirmed conviction of imprisonment is subject to retirement.
"I'm disappointed with the ruling," Cho told reporters following the verdict, adding he will immediately file an appeal.
The probe into Cho's allegations was first launched by the Corruption Investigation Office (CIO) for High-ranking Officials, a state investigative agency separate from the prosecution service. The investigation was the inaugural case handled by the CIO, which was launched in 2021.