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(2nd LD) Ex-Supreme Court judge found not guilty in judiciary power abuse case

All News 21:02 January 13, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS prosecution's stance in last two paras)

SEOUL, Jan. 13 (Yonhap) -- A former top court judge indicted for his suspected role in a judiciary power abuse scandal during the conservative Park Geun-hye administration was found not guilty on Monday.

The Seoul Central District Court found former Supreme Court senior judge Yoo Hae-yong not guilty of colluding in the power abuse scandal to help report the proceedings of a certain case to the presidential office.

The ruling is the first to be handed down in relation to the judiciary power abuse scandal that saw a Supreme Court chief justice indicted and detained for the first time in South Korea's judicial history.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae was indicted and detained on 47 counts relating to his alleged abuse of leadership, including interfering in trials and compiling a so-called blacklist of judges. He was later released on bail.

Yoo, who now works as an attorney, is accused of ordering a court researcher to compile a document detailing the progress of a case involving a doctor couple who was associated with the former president's wider power abuse scandal.

Prosecutors suspect the report was leaked to Cheong Wa Dae through another senior court official.

He is also accused of taking the reports with him as he left the Supreme Court and accepting a separate case he handled during his term at the top court.

The court, however, said the evidence submitted by the prosecution is insufficient to conclude that Yoo colluded in the alleged document leak.

The court added that the document was simply among the possessions he took when leaving the Supreme Court and that he had not directly handled the separate case during his career as a judge.

Yoo thanked the court for its "fair and just ruling," adding he will "live more honestly going forward."

The Monday ruling is unlikely to impact the remaining trials in the judiciary power abuse case as the court did not acknowledge Yoo's link to the alleged document leak.

Prosecutors said they plan to appeal, citing previous questionings in which Yoo and the other senior official mostly acknowledged their involvement in the alleged document leak.

They also argued that Yoo breached attorney law by agreeing to work as a lawyer on the case that he had thoroughly reviewed during his term at the Supreme Court.

Former Supreme Court senior judge Yoo Hae-yong attends a trial at the Seoul Central District Court on Jan. 13, 2020. (Yonhap)

mlee@yna.co.kr
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