Ex-Chief Justice Grilled on Judiciary Power Abuse

Write : 2019-01-11 18:29:02 Update : 2019-01-11 22:21:55

Ex-Chief Justice Grilled on Judiciary Power Abuse

Anchor: Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae appeared for the prosecution's questioning on Friday over his alleged role in a power abuse scandal involving former top court officials. Before entering the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office, he apologized for causing concerns. During the interrogation, he is said to have denied allegations. 
Kim Bum-soo has more.  

Report: Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae is accused of wielding influence on politically-sensitive cases. 

The former chief justice appeared for the prosecution's questioning Friday morning. 

He held a news conference in front of the Supreme Court before entering the prosecutors' office.

[Sound bite: Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae (Korean)]
"Most of all, I am sincerely sorry for causing such a big concern to Korean citizens for what happened during my tenure."

Surrounded by reporters and protesters for and against him, he suggested that the buck stops with him.

[Sound bite: Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae (Korean)]
"I am devastated as many justices are hurt and not a small number of people are being probed by investigators. This is all due to my lack of virtue and it is only reasonable that I be held responsible."     

While noting that he would explain to prosecutors on what he called "misunderstandings" surrounding him, Yang also tried to defend justices already under investigation.

[Sound bite: Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae (Korean)] 
"Many justices involved in this case said they did not violate the laws and conscience while carrying out their duties. I trust them. If a fault is found among them later, I should be held responsible for that... I hope this case will be approached from a fair angle without prejudice or preconceptions." 

During the previous Park Geun-hye administration, Yang sought to establish an appeals court, claiming it would reduce the overwhelming workload on the Supreme Court. To persuade the administration, he is suspected to have lobbied the then presidential office, using high-profile trials as bargaining chips. 

Yang is alleged to have instructed National Court Administration(NCA) officials to come up with ways to interfere in politically-sensitive trials to garner Park's favor. 

Lim Jong-hun, former NCA deputy head, was already arrested over the power abuse allegations. Prosecutors also questioned former Supreme Court Justices Park Byong-dae and Ko Young-han who both served as chiefs of the NCA.

Among former and incumbent judges embroiled in the case, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office also questioned former Justice Kim Yong-deok who was in charge of Japanese wartime forced labor cases brought by Koreans victims.

Prosecutors are said to have secured testimonies that Yang conveyed his opinion to Kim that if the top court upholds the lower court's ruling in favor of the Korean victims, it would negatively affect Seoul-Tokyo relations.

Prosecutors also raided the offices of lawyers at the law firm Kim & Chang which represented the Japanese companies in the suit. 

Yang is also accused of creating a blacklist of judges critical of the Park government. 

The 71-year old former chief justice is said to have denied the allegations during the interrogation Friday.

Yang is the first former Supreme Court chief justice to be interrogated by prosecution as a criminal suspect. He led the top court from 2011 to 2017.   
Kim Bum-soo, KBS World Radio News.

[Photo : YONHAP News]

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