Yang Seung-tae will become the first-ever former chief justice of the Supreme Court who is summoned by the Prosecution on Friday. It is a huge shame to the judiciary that former chief justice of the Supreme Court is subject to investigation as a suspect regarding his allegations to intervene in rulings. During his term, Yang misused his power to push forward with the establishment of an appellate court, which made him a shameful leader who drove the judiciary faced with suspicions of overuse of power. In June last year, Yang denied all the relevant allegations including interventions in rulings. However, the prosecution has revealed some evidence that shows his interventions in rulings regarding forced labor during Japanese rule.
It was somewhat expected that he was summoned, given that the prosecution suspected that Yang collided with former deputy head of the Office of Court Administration Lim Jong-heon, who was arrested and brought to trial, regarding most of the relevant charges. There only was a short period of time for taking a breather in the prosecution’s investigation when arrest warrants were rejected for former Supreme Court Chief Judges Park Byong-dae and Ko Young-han, who served as head of the Office of Court Administration when Yang was in the position of Supreme Court chief judge. Since evidence was found to show that Yang intervened in a ruling at the Supreme Court regarding forced labor during Japanese rule, the prosecution has sped up the investigations.
It has been alleged that Yang met a lawyer of a Japanese war criminal company while the relevant trial was dealt with by the Supreme Court, promising to send the case to the en banc and he signed documents to put judges who were critical of judiciary administration at a disadvantage by making personnel interventions. It has been reported that prosecutors will summon and investigate him and issue an arrest warrant. If he is faced with an arrest warrant, it is a complete tragedy in constitutional history.
Yang should feel a great sense of responsibility for the crisis of the judiciary. However, it is not right to frame him by alleging that he gave a direction to overuse the right to judiciary administration in advance or to summon him several times to disgrace him on purpose. While showing respect to the person who led the judiciary for six years, the prosecution has to investigate based on proof. Yang should be also responsible for the case by cooperating during the investigations. As former justices and chief justice of the Supreme Court have been faced with the prosecution investigations, the judiciary has to learn a lesson and reflect on their failure to safeguard independence in trials and judiciary fairness.