Judges’ impeachment statement not bindingThe latest announcement by a judges’ council in support of parliament’s push for the impeachment of judges implicated in a power abuse scandal is not legally binding and is to be viewed as more of a declaration, the chief of the top court’s governing body said on Wednesday.
Supreme Court Justice Ahn Chul-sang, also the head of the National Court Administration (NCA), issued the statement in response to a written question filed by an opposition lawmaker regarding the council’s decision.
Early last week, representative judges from district courts agreed on the need to seek the impeachment of sitting judges allegedly involved in former Supreme Court Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae’s schemes to conspire to lobby the office of Park Geun-hye, then the current president.
The decision was formally delivered to incumbent top court chief Kim Myeong-su.
Prosecutors believe Yang instructed his officials to interfere in certain trials with high political stakes and to deliver verdicts in Park’s favor to gain her approval in return for the establishment of a separate court of appeals, his pet project.
“The content of the resolution seems to highlight that they are making a public statement that the allegations involving former Supreme Court officials amount to a clear violation of the Constitution, rather than to call for their impeachment,” Ahn said.
Given that the National Assembly and the Constitutional Court have the authority to remove judges from office, the resolution is not legally binding, nor can it be seen as a formal proposal to the chief justice urging for any action, Ahn added.
“They have expressed their point of view that a Constitutional evaluation is necessary.”
Political parties remain divided over whether to push for a motion to impeachment.
Prosecutors have arrested and indicted a key man, also a former senior judge, in the scandal and questioned a number of former judges over the allegations, with the probe now closing in on Yang.