4 parties push for special court to deal with judicial scandal

SEOUL, Four parties, including the ruling Democratic Party (DP), agreed Thursday to push for the establishment of a special court to try a judicial power abuse case involving the Supreme Court and its former chief.

The Supreme Court under ex-Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae is alleged to have sought to use politically sensitive trials in persuading senior presidential aides to then-conservative President Park Geun-hye to support Yang's bid to establish a court of appeals.

Under Yang's direction, the National Court Administration, the top court's administration affairs body, allegedly devised plans to influence politically sensitive trials to the advantage of then-President Park.

Park was ousted early last year over corruption charges and is now in jail.

The ruling DP, the minor conservative Bareunmirae Party, the liberal Party for Democracy and Peace and the leftist Justice Party said they will push for a motion to set up a special panel of judges during the ongoing regular parliamentary session.

"Considering the development in the probe into the case, we cannot help raising doubts over whether a local court has a willingness to reveal the truth. The court has rejected arrest warrants for those responsible for the scandal without proper reasons," the parties said in a joint statement.

"It has been four months since prosecutors investigated the case. Judicial reform cannot be delayed further," they said.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP), which Park was once affiliated with, did not join the move. The LKP said that the establishment of a special court could hamper the independence of the judicial branch.

The four parties called on the LKP to join their move, citing the need to tackle the unprecedented judicial scandal fairly.

Without the LKP's cooperation, the proposal cannot be deliberated at the legislation committee, which is chaired by the conservative party.

The four parties reached a consensus on the need to set up the special court but differed on details.

According to a bill submitted by Rep. Park Ju-min of the DP, a recommendation committee that includes the bar association selects three incumbent judges for the panel establishment. They will be named by the Supreme Court Justice and will delve into the case.

The proposal also calls for making the jury's opinions be reflected in the judge panel's verdict in case of the first trial.

"My party does not fully support Rep. Park's proposal," said Kim Kwan-young, the floor leader of the Bareunmirae Party. "More consultations are needed as to the makeup of the recommendation panel and the public jury's role."

The parties were also at loggerheads over whether the National Assembly should actively engage in unraveling the truth, such as an impeachment of judges involved in the scandal.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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