Supreme Court raided in power abuse probe

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Supreme Court raided in power abuse probe

Prosecutors raided the Supreme Court on Thursday as part of a widening investigation into allegations that a former chief justice abused his authority to attain his ambitious goal of setting up another court of appeals in the judicial system.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office sent investigators to the accounting and finance divisions of the Supreme Court to confiscate evidence on suspected misappropriation of funds by the court’s public relations team.

Prosecutors have been investigating the Supreme Court’s administrative office and former Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae for allegedly exerting their influence in high-profile trials to win presidential favor for a new court of appeals and suppress judges who stood against them.

Recent allegations have surfaced that the Supreme Court took 350 million won ($313,000) from district court budgets and doled out the money to district court judges as incentives.

The unprecedented scandal involving the top court has pitted the judiciary against law enforcement authorities. Prosecutors have requested search warrants for the homes and offices of individuals, mostly judges, who are implicated in the scandal, only to be turned down by the court.

Prosecutors have issued rare missives to the media expressing strong disappointment with the court’s dismissals and blasted the moves as self-protecting.

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