(LEAD) Embattled chief justice apologizes for lying about his alleged role in judge's impeachment
(ATTN: UPDATES with more info in paras 6, 8-10)
SEOUL, Feb. 19 (Yonhap) -- Chief Supreme Court Justice Kim Meong-su apologized again Friday for lying about his alleged role in the recent impeachment of a senior judge as he faces growing heat from opposition lawmakers to step down.
"I give my deep apology for causing grave disappointment and concerns with my uncareful reply," the chief justice said in a post uploaded in the intranet for judges and court employees.
This marks his second apology over the controversy after the first one issued early this month.
The chief justice has been under growing pressure from the main opposition People Power Party to step down for his alleged involvement in the impeachment of judge Lim Seong-geun.
According to an audio recording released by Lim's side, Lim offered to resign in May last year due to lawmakers' move to impeach him over his alleged meddling in politically sensitive trials presided over by other judges during the Park Geun-hye administration, but Kim refused to accept it so the legislature could pass the motion to impeach him.
Kim initially denied having mentioned impeachment as the reason for rejecting the resignation offer during the meeting, but apologized for his untrue account only after the audio recording that contradicted his claim was disclosed. This led opposition lawmakers to claim that the chief justice is politically biased.
"My decision (back then) about whether to accept the judge's resignation offer was only in consideration of various circumstances such as related regulations and was clearly devoid of any political considerations," he wrote in the post.
"It's unthinkable for me to put the independence of the judiciary at risk through either collusion with the political circles or political considerations," the chief justice said.
Kim, however, made clear his refusal to step down.
"I promise I will remember again the gravity of the constitutional duty required of a chief Supreme Court justice and pour more devoted efforts to securing public trust towards the judiciary," he said, vowing to vigorously continue with his job.
Lim was eventually impeached by the parliament led by the ruling Democratic Party earlier this month for his "unconstitutional acts" in trying to influence the trials. The Constitutional Court is currently deliberating on the case to finally determine whether to oust Lim from office.
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