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First Court Martial on Army’s General-Level Appointments Controversy

First Court Martial on Army’s General-Level Appointments Controversy

Posted January. 21, 2005 22:42,   


At the first court martial on the suspicions surrounding the army’s general-level personnel appointments, the defense made waves by showing up behind a “big name” attorney.

The court martial, which took place on January 21 at the Ministry of Defense’s regular military court, saw lawyer Kah Jae-hwan (65) step up as head of the defense. Kah represented President Roh Moo-hyun’s counsel team in last year’s constitutional petition regarding the Special Law on Administrative Capital Relocation.

At the time, President Roh assigned eight attorneys from Bae, Kim & Lee including Kah Jae-hwan to his legal team. Kah was also in charge of legal counsel for the Presidential Committee on Administrative Capital Relocation.

A graduate of Daejeon High School and the Seoul National University Law School, Kah served as a judge for the Seoul Civil District Court and as the president of the Judicial Research & Training Center before beginning a private practice in 1999. He is currently an advisor for the legal firm of Bae, Kim & Lee (Korean name: Taepyeongyang).

Army officials explained that “the counsel for the defense was determined through discussion among the defendants,” and noted, “Kah and his fellow attorneys happily accepted the appointment as a contribution to public interest, without consideration of the fees.”

Many view the defendants’ mobilization of such a prominent name in the legal world as part of an all-out, “everything but the kitchen sink” effort at clearing their names. The general opinion is that the army has enlisted a skilled and seasoned “big-time” attorney in order to achieve a complete victory in the fierce legal battle that will take place against the military prosecution regarding the suspicion that Army Chief of Staff Nam Jae-joon was involved in the personnel scandal.

During the day’s proceedings, the military prosecution accused Chief of Staff Nam of being involved in the illicit appointments, stating, “People who have had a working relationship with Nam and who are presumed to be part of his private network were included en masse in the promotion evaluation process that took place last October.”

In response, the defense moved for a withdrawal of the charges, saying that “the evaluation in question did not involve any bribes or requests,” and that “the public prosecution is difficult to maintain on just the evidence provided by the prosecution.” The defense also asked for a continuance of one week in order to prepare sufficiently on behalf of their defendants, since the prosecution’s allusion to a “private network” was not included in the original indictment. The request was granted, and the court martial ended in just one hour without entering into an examination of the defendants.

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com