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(LEAD) Court grants injunction against suspension of top prosecutor

National 22:25 December 24, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, first 4 paras; UPDATES with more info throughout)

SEOUL, Dec. 24 (Yonhap) -- Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl was reinstated Thursday after a court granted an injunction against his suspension by the justice minister amid feuds over prosecution reforms and politically sensitive probes.

The decision by the Seoul Administrative Court amounts to a setback for Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae, who has been at odds for months with Yoon for months.

On Dec. 16, the ministry suspended Yoon from duty for two months due to four counts of alleged misconduct, including the surveillance of judges hearing cases on former Justice Minister Cho Kuk and presidential officials' alleged involvement in the Ulsan mayoral election in 2018 to bring victory to one of President Moon Jae-in's longtime friends.

Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl (Yonhap)

Yoon filed an injunction on Dec. 17, along with a separate administrative lawsuit against the decision, claiming that the disciplinary session had procedural errors and the allegations against him were not true.

He also argued the measure to bar him from performing his duty seriously undermined the values of political impartiality and independence at the prosecution. Also major investigations, including a probe into the controversial closure of the Wolsong-1 nuclear reactor, could be dealt a serious setback, he added.

Refuting Yoon's claims, the justice ministry argued the measure, endorsed by the president, observed procedural due process and was taken in accordance with the president's rights and responsibility under the Constitution.

Earlier in the day, the court convened a second round of hearing to review Yoon's injunction request. The first hearing took place Tuesday.

Among the issues discussed at the hearing included whether the suspension caused "irreparable damage," how it affected public interest and whether there have been procedural flaws in the process leading up to the disciplinary decision.

His two-year term was scheduled to finish in July next year.

On Dec. 1, the same court granted a preliminary injunction to halt his temporary removal imposed by Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae over allegations of a series of misconduct. The ministry, undeterred, proceeded with its disciplinary panel discussions twice to eventually discipline him.

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr
(END)

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