A single court will conduct trials for the two individually indicted cases on former Justice Minister Cho Kuk’s wife and Dongyang University professor Chung Kyung-sim’s fabrication of a prize certificate.
The Seoul Central District Court announced on Friday that Professor Chung’s new private document fabrication charge, which was indicted by the prosecution, was assigned to the criminal court 25 on Thursday afternoon. The decision was made in accordance with a regulation of the Supreme Court, which stipulated that in case of the receipt of a case related to a previously-assigned case, the new case may be assigned to the criminal court to which the preceding case has been assigned. “The assignment decision was made in consideration of the application for consolidation of the prosecution,” said an official of the Seoul Central District Court.
The criminal court 25 has been in charge of the preceding prize certificate fabrication case; and illicit activities for the school admission of Chung’s daughter and illegal investment in a private equity fund. As the court did not allow the modification of the certificate fabrication charge indictment, the prosecution decided to file a new indictment on the fabrication charge. However, as the newly indicted fabrication case has been also assigned to the criminal court 25, the same court will be in charge of two charges with two case numbers but the same details, making the total number of cases assigned three.
The prosecution and chief judge Song In-kwon are likely to collide again over the consolidation of these cases until the preparation period for a trial comes to an end on January 9. The prosecution side is complaining about how the judge makes decisions as he wishes. In particular, the court’s single-sentence comment of “no specific opinion was stated (by the prosecution” in the report of trial denying the prosecution’s application for modification of an indictment is criticized as the false writing of a public document. “Filing an application for challenge against the court is being considered in case of continued denial of the prosecution’s opinions,” said an officer of the prosecution. Article 18 of the Criminal Procedure Act stipulates that a prosecutor may challenge a judge “if there is any apprehension that a judge may render an unfair judgment.”
However, the court is refuting that the claim of falsely writing a public document cannot be accepted as not all details are recorded in a report of a trial and there is no obligation to do. It claims that there was no objection raised by the prosecution to the first trial’s disapproval of the modification of an indictment and the matter should be contented at an appellate trial according to the Supreme Court’s decision. Meanwhile, some criticize chief judge Song for inadequately exercising the right to command granted to a judge. “The current issue is negatively impacting trust in the judiciary as it is seen as a conflict between the prosecution and the court, rather than the prosecution and an attorney,” said a judge in Seoul.