The prosecution indicted Yang Sung-tae, former Supreme Court chief justice, on Monday on charges that he abused his power to influence politically significant trials and disadvantage justices critical of him.
Ending an eight-month probe, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office filed 47 charges against Yang, including abuse of power, leaking of state secrets and dereliction of duty for approving or orchestrating the use of politically significant trials in backdoor deals with the Park Geun-hye administration.
In a dramatic fall from grace, the veteran judge with a career spanning more than four decades, who is now in custody, became the first former or incumbent Supreme Court chief justice to be arrested and indicted in the judiciary’s 71-year history.
Yang, 71, who headed the country’s top court from 2011 to September 2017, was accused of pressuring judges to deliver verdicts in the Park administration’s favor and of penalizing those who criticized his management of the court. Some 31 judges were blacklisted for “creating a stir.”
In return, Yang sought to secure support from the Park administration to dispatch more justices at South Korea’s embassies abroad and to establish a separate court of appeals, according to the prosecution.
The prosecution also brought charges against Park Byong-dae and Ko Young-han without detention — both retired Supreme Court Justices and former heads of the National Court Administration — for playing leading roles in implementing Yang’s order. Park and Ko were indicted on 33 and 18 charges, respectively.
One of the high-profile cases Yang is suspected of having influenced was a damages suit filed by Korean victims forced to work for Japanese companies during Japan’s 1910-45 occupation of the Korean Peninsula. Yang is suspected of having abused his power to order senior officials at the NCA, the top court’s administrative body, to find ways to delay court proceedings for the case, mindful of the Park administration’s wishes to mend ties with Japan.
On Yang’s watch, the Supreme Court also allegedly collected inside intelligence from the Constitutional Court to keep it in check, covered up irregularities involving judges and interfered with the trial of Won Sei-hoon, a former spy chief accused of leading an online campaign to help then-presidential candidate Park Geun-hye win the 2012 election.
Yang has denied the accusations. The prosecution plans to decide whether to indict some 100 former or incumbent judges involved in the allegations.
By Ock Hyun-ju (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Source : koreaherald