Seoul (AFP)

Samsung heir and de facto boss Lee Jae-yong appeared in Seoul court on Tuesday for illegal injections of propofol, a potent pain reliever.

The vice president of Samsung Electronics, one of the world's leading smartphone and chip makers, is accused of regularly receiving these injections at a cosmetic surgery clinic in Seoul in 2017 and 2018.

Propofol is an anesthetic drug used in particular in intensive care units and which is sometimes consumed recreationally.

It was an overdose of this product that notably caused the death of Michael Jackson in 2009.

The 297th largest fortune in the world, according to Forbes, was fined in June, without appearing, a fine of 50 million won (37,000 euros).

It was set by the Seoul prosecutor's office as part of a procedure to avoid a trial, with illegal injections of propofol considered a minor offense.

He was eventually ordered to be tried in court.

Dressed in a dark gray business suit and his face covered with a mask, Mr. Lee made no statement when he arrived at the court, located in a central Seoul neighborhood.

In court, the prosecution demanded a fine of 70 million won (50,000 euros), according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap.

Mr. Lee's attorneys argued that this substance was administered to him for medical reasons.

"It was prescribed medically by a physician while Lee was being treated," they said in a statement.

Samsung Electronics declined to comment.

Mr. Lee Jae-yong was early released from prison two months ago.

He was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for corruption, embezzlement and other offenses related to the corruption scandal that brought down former South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

He is also facing legal proceedings in another case, that of the controversial merger of two subsidiaries that had favored his takeover of the conglomerate.

Samsung, one of the world's leading smartphone and chip makers, is by far the biggest of the "chaebols", the family-run industrial empires that dominate business in South Korea, the world's 12th largest economy.

© 2021 AFP