(LEAD) Samsung heir Lee returns to prison after surgery

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead as Lee returns to prison; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, April 15 (Yonhap) — Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, the de facto leader of Samsung Group convicted of bribery, returned to prison Thursday, about a month after an appendicitis surgery, sources said.

Lee was transferred to Samsung Medical Center in southern Seoul on March 19 to receive an emergency surgery after suffering a ruptured appendix.

The 52-year-old tycoon was supposed to return to Seoul Detention Center in Uiwang, Gyeonggi Province, last Friday but was advised to stay a few more days at the hospital to recover, the sources from the industry and legal circles said.

Lee refused doctors’ advice to stay longer for medical care, saying that he does not want to cause trouble any further, they added. He is said to have lost about 7 kilograms following the surgery.

Lee, the group’s heir, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison on Jan. 18 in a retrial of a bribery case involving the impeached former President Park Geun-hye. He will be released in July next year.

This Jan. 18, 2021, photo shows Lee Jae-yong (C), vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., heading to the Seoul High Court to attend a sentencing hearing for a high-profile bribery case. (Yonhap)