Build a better caseThe Seoul Central District Court refused to allow the prosecution to arrest two former Supreme Court justices on charges of power abuse. Retired top judges Ko Young-han and Park Byoung-dae avoided the disgrace of being detained for further investigations by the prosecution.
The denial of physical detention does not mean that they are off the hook. They must undergo the same criminal procedures even if they are not detained. The court rejected the prosecution’s requests for physical arrests of the two retired judges upon deeming that sufficient evidence against them had already been gathered by the prosecution. The court also reached its decision after concluding that there is no concern about the possibility of destruction of evidence or of them going into hiding.
The two judges of the district court, who separately reviewed the warrant requests for Ko and Park, also did not see the two former justices colluding with Im Jong-hun, former head of the National Court Administration (NCA), who has already been arrested for power abuse. The two judges did not entirely agree with the prosecution’s accusation of a systematic top-down meddling in the highest court’s decisions. They found ambiguity in the claims of power abuse and collaboration.
Some civic groups criticized the two judges for being soft on their seniors. But the same court granted the arrest of Im, the former head of the NCA. The prosecution must not emotionally respond to the judges’ decision by claiming that the denial of physical detention of the two justices constitutes the court’s condoning of a grave disregard of the Constitution and judiciary dignity. If prosecutors are that sure about the need for their pretrial arrests, they should build up a stronger case to re-file arrest warrants. Before blaming the judges, prosecutors must focus on fine-tuning their investigation to allow no room for questions.
JoongAng Sunday, Dec. 8-9, Page 34