Former South Korean president dead in apparent suicide (Lead)

May 23rd, 2009 - 5:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Seoul, May 23 (DPA) Former South Korean president Roh Moo Hyun died Saturday in an apparent suicide, the police said. His death follows an investigation into bribery charges involving Roh’s family.
Roh’s body was found at the foot of a mountain near his home in the southeastern part of the country after he jumped from a 30-metre cliff during an early morning hike, Yonhap news agency reported.

He was brought to the hospital with severe injuries and later died, police said. Pusan National University hospital confirmed that Roh, 62, died at 9.30 a.m. due to external head injury.

Police released a suicide note Roh left on his personal computer before he left his home, in which he spoke of emotional suffering and asked to be cremated.

“The pain that I caused to so many people is too great. The pain in the coming days is unfathomable,” Roh’s note said.

“Don’t be sorry. Don’t blame anyone. It’s fate,” the note said.

Roh’s successor in office, President Lee Myung Bak expressed “deep regret” over Roh’s sudden death, his office said.

A spokesman for the presidential office said Lee and his staff were in “complete shock and disbelief”.

“It is truly hard to believe what happened. It is a sad, tragic incident,” Lee was quoted as saying.

Roh, who served as president 2003-08, last month become the subject of an investigation into bribery allegations. Roh faced accusations of having received $6 million from a businessman during his time in office via his family and secretaries, or at least had been informed about the payments to his family.

The politician rejected most of the charges, but publicly apologised for his family’s involvement in the scandal.

Aides said Roh had been under mounting pressure from the ongoing probe.

Roh’s funeral is expected to be held at Bongha village, some 450 km south of Seoul, where he lived since retiring from office in February 2008.

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