Ex-chief justice’s car is raided

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Ex-chief justice’s car is raided

Prosecutors raided a vehicle of Yang Sung-tae, former Supreme Court Chief Justice, on Sunday, and offices of three other former Supreme Court justices.

It was the first time since a special probe was launched in June that the prosecutors raided offices of former Supreme Court justices. They are investigating allegations that the Supreme Court tried to curry favor with the Park Geun-hye administration by pressuring judges to make rulings the Blue House would approve of.

In particular, then-chief justice Yang is accused of currying favor with the Blue House to pursue his own agenda in his control of the country’s judiciary.

A special probe team from the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office raided Yang’s vehicle and home of former Supreme Court judge Ko Young-han and offices of two former Supreme Court justices - Park Byung-dae and Cha Han-sung - on Sunday with court-issued warrants.

Prosecutors said while a warrant to raid Yang’s car was granted, a warrant to raid his house was denied.

The prosecutors were able to conduct raids into offices of former judges who were at the highest level of command in the judiciary during the previous administration.

Former Chief Justice Yang is suspected of having used sensitive cases as bargaining chips with the Park Geun-hye administration when he was the Supreme Court chief justice from 2011 to 2017. Yang apparently wanted to create a new court of appeals to lighten the caseload for the Supreme Court, allowing the Supreme Court to take on more significant cases. To get the president’s support for his agenda, he allegedly pressured judges to deliver decisions she would approve of.

Yang’s ambition to set up the new court of appeals never came to fruition.

He is also suspected of having instructed court officials to draft a blacklist of judges who had opposed his court initiatives and went after their private records, such as their accumulation of wealth and political leanings.

Prosecutors also suspect the former chief justice tried to create slush fund from a court budget earmarked for public relations.

The three former Supreme Court judges who saw their offices raided Sunday all served as head of the National Court Administration, the court’s administrative office, during Yang’s six-year leadership.

The special probe is expected to call Yang in for questioning in coming weeks.

BY KANG JIN-KYU, KIM MIN-SANG [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]
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