24 May 2009

Former South Korean president jumps to his death

5:23 am on 24 May 2009

Former President Roh Moo-hyun of South Korea has jumped to his death while hiking in the mountains near his home.

In a nationally televised statement, Moon Jae-in, who was Mr Roh's presidential chief of staff, said his former boss appeared to have committed suicide.

"Former President Roh left his house at 5.45am and while hiking on the Ponghwa mountain appears to have jumped off a rock at around 6.40am," Mr Moon said.

Local media say he was taken to a local hospital and then to a larger one in the port city of Busan, where he died of head injuries at around 8.30am on Saturday.

According to the Yonhap news agency he left a suicide note.

Mr Roh, 62, a former lawyer served as president from 2003 to 2008.

But by the time he left office, he had become deeply unpopular. Even the one thing he was consistently admired for - running a clean government - has since been tarnished by a widening bribery and corruption scandal.

Mr Roh admitted that his wife took money from a wealthy businessman while he was in office, and apologised for it. His wife was reportedly due to be questioned again about the matter.