SEOUL – The South Korean public prosecutor’s office formally accused on Monday a former chief justice of the Supreme Court of abuse of power during his tenure.
The public prosecutor’s office accused Yang Sung-tae, who presided over the country’s top court between 2011-2017, and other judges of the National Court Administration (NCA) – the administrative wing of the Supreme Court – of abusing their authority to influence judicial decisions in favor of the government that was led by then-President Park Geun-hye, who is currently serving a prison sentence of 24 years after being found guilty of corruption.
Prosecutors have also formally charged two former judges of the NCA – Park Byong-dae and Ko Young, Yonhap agency reported.
They have not requested pre-trial detention for these two judges, unlike 71-year-old Yang, who has been denied bail since he was detained on Jan. 24 over fears that he might try to destroy the evidence against him.
Yang, who has denied any wrongdoing, Park and Ko are the latest officials to be accused since former NCA chief Lim Jong-hun, who was indicted and has been in custody since October.
Following eight months of investigations, the public prosecutor’s office found that Yang and his collaborators orchestrated the delay of a Supreme Court sentence on compensations to be paid by Japanese firm Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal to a group of South Koreans they had enslaved during World War II.
With the delay (the sentence was not passed until Oct. 2019), Yang is accused of trying to buy time for the government led by Park, who was concerned about deteriorating relations with Tokyo.
In exchange, he expected support from the administration on the creation of a new court of appeals, one of Yang’s major demands during his term.
Former president Park was sentenced in April last year to 24 years in prison for her role in a corruption case, dubbed the South Korean Rasputin scandal.
According to the sentence, Park and her friend Choi Soon-sil, nicknamed Rasputin due to her close friendship with the former president, created a vast network of favors through which they blackmailed large firms such as Samsung, Hyundai and Lotte.