Ex-Supreme Court chief grilled in power abuse probe

January 11, 2019

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae was quizzed by prosecutors Friday over a power abuse scandal that has placed the judiciary under unprecedented scrutiny.

Stiff-faced, Yang appeared outside the top court building in southern Seoul ahead of the interrogation scheduled for 9:30 a.m., amid tight security and loud crowds of protesters calling for his punishment.

“I have but myself to blame for all of this. Responsibility rests with me,” he told reporters. “I am also deeply sorry to the public for causing concern for the things that happened under my term.”

But he rejected the mounting claims that the judiciary was involved in the alleged interference of trials, defending the court system and officials as being devoted to “serving the public in the name of justice.”

“We have never acted against our own conscience or the rule of law. And I believe in them,” Yang said.

The 71-year-old stands accused of using or seeking to use trials as political leverage to lobby the office of then President Park Geun-hye to get her approval for the establishment of a separate court of appeals, his long-envisioned plan.

He is the first former head of South Korea’s Supreme Court to face a prosecution questioning as a criminal suspect. He faces at least 40 counts of charges, including abuse of power and leaking state secrets.

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae (C) answers questions from reporters in front of the top court building in southern Seoul on Jan. 11, 2019, ahead of his questioning by the prosecution over power abuse allegations. (Yonhap)
Surrounded by a swarm of reporters and camera crews, ex-Supreme Court Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae walks into the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office to be questioned over power abuse allegations on Jan. 11, 2019. (Yonhap)

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae (C) answers questions from reporters in front of the top court building in southern Seoul on Jan. 11, 2019, ahead of his questioning by the prosecution over power abuse allegations. (Yonhap)

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