Opposition slams DP for claiming Han is innocentOpposition parties blasted the ruling Democratic Party for slighting law and courts after its chief claimed that former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook was wrongfully indicted and convicted.
Rep. Choo Mi-ae made the remarks as Han was released from prison Wednesday after serving a two-year term for taking illegal political funds. Choo suggested that Han was convicted of trumped-up charges, and called for reforms to eradicate such “judicial ills.”
“The ruling party’s leadership is disregarding the authority of the judicial branch and law, while portraying the unanimous decision by all 13 Supreme Court justices to convict [Han] as ill and unfair,” said Rep. Chung Woo-taik, floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party.
“This shameless attitude is a new ill,” he said.
Lee Jae-man, a member of the party’s Supreme Council, also accused Choo of denying the rule of law, and claimed that her calls for judicial reform could be the beginning of a “reign of terror” aimed at controlling the judicial branch.
“If they attempt to tame the judicial branch, people won’t just be sitting idly by,” he said.
He also called for President Moon Jae-in to state his position on the issue.
The minor opposition People’s Party also slammed the ruling party chief.
“Former Prime Minister Han is neither .?.?. a pro-democracy fighter nor an independence fighter,” Rep. Lee Yong-ho, the party’s chief policy maker, said. “She is just a person released after serving a prison term for taking black money.”
Lee also noted that Han was convicted by a unanimous decision at the Supreme Court.
“Denying this is denying the judicial system,” he said. “Stop remarks siding with crimes and treating the judicial branch as an illegal organization. If they think it’s unfair, they should seek re-trial.”
Lee also said the party could reconsider Moon’s nominee for the Supreme Court chief.
Han, prime minister from 2006 to 2007, was put behind bars in 2015 after the Supreme Court convicted her of accepting about 900 million won ($793,301) in illegal political funds from the head of a local construction company.
But she has long claimed innocence, arguing that she never accepted the money and the charges against her were fabricated as part of political revenge by a conservative government against the former liberal administration of late President Roh Moo-hyun.
The ruling party made no more comments on the issue as it sought to calm the situation. Some members even discounted Choo’s remarks as a personal view, not that of the party, amid concern the remark could backfire and hinder the party’s judicial reform drive.
“As far as I know, the remark was made in her personal capacity because former Prime Minister Han was former party chief and suffered the hardship of imprisonment,” a party official said on condition of anonymity. “There is nothing the party can comment on this issue.”
Rep. Won Hye-young also said in a radio interview that he believes Choo’s point is to call for improving the judicial system as it has been politically swayed in the past. Won also said he doesn’t think she made remarks on a specific case.