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Moon receives minister's briefing on punishing top prosecutor: Cheong Wa Dae

All News 17:39 December 16, 2020

SEOUL, Dec. 16 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in received a direct briefing Wednesday from Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae on the ministry's decision to suspend South Korea's top prosecutor from duty for two months, Cheong Wa Dae said.

The disciplinary measure against Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl over multiple charges of ethical and legal misdeeds requires the president's approval.

The ministry's disciplinary committee voted to punish him in a marathon session that ended on early Wednesday morning. Choo visited Moon's office in the afternoon for a related briefing to Moon, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok confirmed.

President Moon Jae-in (L) and Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae in a file photo (Yonhap)

President Moon Jae-in (L) and Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae in a file photo (Yonhap)

In late November, Choo accused Yoon of violating his obligation of being "politically neutral" as leader of the nation's state prosecution service.

Yoon's lieutenants also illegally gathered private information on judges handling major cases, according to Choo. Yoon, however, has denied all the allegations and took issue with the procedural legitimacy of how he was disciplined.

In a press statement, he described the ministry's move as an "illegal and unjust" step based on "unlawful and groundless pretexts" only aimed at ousting him in spite of his two-year tenure that ends in July next year.

He added he would address the problem in accordance with procedures stipulated in the Constitution and law.

Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl arrives at the Supreme Prosecutors Office in Seoul for work on Dec. 16, 2020. (Yonhap)

Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl arrives at the Supreme Prosecutors Office in Seoul for work on Dec. 16, 2020. (Yonhap)

Choo and Yoon, both appointed by Moon, have long been at odds with each other. Since taking office in January, the minister has been at the forefront of the government's drive to reform the prosecution office said to have excessive power and authority.

Critics of the Moon administration argue that the president is abusing his power to tame the prosecution that has been looking into several scandals involving his confidants.

Yoon is leading opinion polls on the favorability of potential presidential candidates for the conservative bloc but has remained vague in public about whether he's intent on running in the election slated for the spring of 2022.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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