Questions build for court nominee

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Questions build for court nominee

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Lee Dong-heub, the troubled chief justice nominee of the Constitutional Court continues to face stiff opposition from both politics and the judiciary, over his qualification for one of the nation’s top posts, even including his personality.

In the midst of mounting criticisms, some ruling Saenuri Party lawmakers said they need to figure out whether Lee indeed committed any illegal acts.

“We need to be sturdy in judging his violation of the current law,” Kim Sung-tae, a senior member of Saenuri said.

Hong Il-pyo, a Saenuri spokesman, also said, “It’s not true that the Saenuri Party unconditionally supports the nomination [of Lee].”

Ahead of a confirmation hearing scheduled on Jan. 21-22, the opposition Democratic United Party yesterday repeated its pressure on Lee to step down voluntarily.

“A stream of accusations against Lee are continuously being reported from insiders,” Park Ki-choon, the floor leader of the DUP, said at a meeting with senior party members.

“The corruption allegations against him have been continuously released. It’s not a matter that needs a confirmation hearing. He should immediately resign.”

So far, Lee was questioned on three major irregularities: accumulating his wealth in an unlawful way; giving preferential treatment to his three daughters’ careers; and spending taxpayers’ money on his business trip for his own interests.

Additionally, several DUP lawmakers made new accusations against Lee.

“We analyzed his theses published in 1993 and in 2003, and found that they had similar patterns with another writer’s,” Choi Jae-cheon, a DUP lawmaker, said. “Five consecutive references are the same with those of the other writer’s, so we think this is plagiarism.”

Seo Young-kyo, another DUP lawmaker, also said, “For the six years when he was a Constitutional Court judge, he has spent 4 million won ($3,784) for personal purposes, during the weekend. He also accompanied his wife five times on business trips abroad, at times, even bringing his daughter.”

Under the law, a civil servant, including judges, can’t spend his stipends during the weekend.

However, Lee said he didn’t spend taxpayer’s money on his personal travels, and his wife paid her own money for the trip and so did her daughter.


By Kim Hee-jin, Lee Dong-hyun [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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