A suspicious delay

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A suspicious delay

The Moon Jae-in administration has long been criticized for being the very source of social conflict instead of addressing it. After the liberal government embarked a campaign to root out so-called “past evils” in courts, the public cast ever-deepening suspicion about the lead-up to the “massacre” of conservative judges under new Chief Justice Kim Myeong-soo.

The conservative judges were replaced by so-called “political judges” with pro-Moon inclinations, including a progressive group of judges close to the current administration. They have been delivering one controversial ruling after another over criminal cases involving the Blue House since then. The liberal judges — who exposed alleged abuse of power by the National Court Administration under Yang — have quit their jobs and are rushing to run in the April 15 parliamentary election for the ruling Democratic Party even before related trials are not over yet.

Who would believe in their integrity and fairness of the trials when they denounce other judges for having different views with derogatory remarks? The very act of a number of conservative judges tendering their resignations testifies to the severity of the situation.

With our courts having turned into a hotbed for political battles, can judges champion the principles of justice? The suspicion that a judiciary branch of the government hands over rulings backing the executive branch devastates the foundation of democracy.

Controversy has erupted after the Seoul Central District Court abruptly postponed a ruling on a politically-charged case involving an opinion-rigging scheme before a local election in the second trial. The bench has delayed its rulings twice probably due to their political repercussions ahead of the upcoming legislative election. The chief judge on the bench affirmed that South Gyeongsang Governor Kim Kyung-soo, the defendant, saw a demonstration of online opinion manipulation by a powerful blogger called Druking after he was briefed about illegal software. Kim denied it.

Court insiders claim that the delay in sentencing stemmed from “political disagreements” between judges in the case. A final ruling cannot be delivered before the April 15 general election even if a second trial takes place in March. Many people are suspicious that the court intentionally delays its rulings in order not to adversely affect the results of the election.

If the judiciary branch is shaken by political pressure from the powers that be, the rule of law collapses. We urge the court to deliver a fair ruling on the Druking scandal if it really wants to uphold the core values of democracy.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 24, Page 26
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