Power abuse scandal rocks S. Korea’s judiciary

SEOUL, July 31 (Yonhap) -- A power abuse scandal surrounding South Korea's Supreme Court is creating a huge stir amid snowballing allegations about former court leaders' politicking and manipulation under a past conservative government.

The scandal centers around hundreds of documents written by the National Court Administration (NCA), the top court's administrative office, under former Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae, who was in office from 2011-17.

The powerful body in charge of administrative and personnel affairs of the judicial branch is alleged to have played a key role in Yang's campaign to set up a new court of appeals. The NCA devised plans to win support from top government officials while curbing progressive judges and opponents to its establishment.

After liberal President Moon Jae-in took office in May last year, the top court launched an internal probe into its past wrongdoings under his predecessor, Park Geun-hye, who was ousted for corruption.

In its report in May the investigation team said it examined the NCA's documents produced during Yang's six-year term and that about 410 of them were related to the court's alleged misdeeds.

In June, the team made public 98 documents directly linked to its appeals court scheme, including plans to use politically sensitive trials to earn Park's support and monitor activities of dissenting judges.

The NCA officials, led by its then head, Lim Jong-hun, allegedly communicated frequently with Park's aides and influential politicians over the matter.

The probe team unveiled an additional 196 documents Tuesday that included plans to lobby lawmakers and the press.

Yang and senior former court officials are currently being investigated by the prosecution.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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