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Samsung's Lee begins prison sentence appeal

As expected, Samsung Group heir Lee Jae-yong and his lawyers faced an appellate court in South Korea to start the appeal of the executive's five-year jail sentence, Reuters reported.

The lower court earlier convicted Lee of bribing former South Korean President Park Geun-hye via her confidante Choi Soon-sil. Four other Samsung executives were also found guilty in the case.

The defense is challenging the lower court's argument that Lee's actions "implied" asking for help from Park by providing financial support for entities controlled by Choi. Choi eventually colluded with Park to influence the country's pension service to vote in favor of a 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates. The merger was instrumental in tightening Lee's hold on Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.

Defense lawyers are expected to question, among others, whether Lee indeed committed an "ordinary type of bribery" as defined under South Korean law, which covers only civil servants. Choi was not a civil servant.

Meanwhile, the prosecution filed a cross-appeal, arguing that the court ruling which did not acknowledge Lee's explicit solicitation of Park's help "did not make sense."

The court is expected to rule on Lee's case by February 2018, after which the losing side could lodge an appeal with the South Korean Supreme Court.