Democrats say court ruling shows Yoon ‘exploited’ prosecution service for personal political gain

Posted on : 2024-02-02 17:02 KST Modified on : 2024-02-02 17:02 KST
The strong words from South Korea’s main opposition party came in response to a court convicting a high-ranking prosecutor for conspiring to target political figures with criminal complaints
Hong Ihk-pyo, the floor leader of South Korea’s Democratic Party, speaks at a policy coordination meeting held at the National Assembly on Feb. 1. (Yonhap)
Hong Ihk-pyo, the floor leader of South Korea’s Democratic Party, speaks at a policy coordination meeting held at the National Assembly on Feb. 1. (Yonhap)

After a high-ranking Korean prosecutor was sentenced to a year in prison for conspiring to target political figures with criminal complaints, opposition politicians are demanding that President Yoon Suk-yeol and ruling party interim leader Han Dong-hoon make a public apology.

In the scandal, Son Jun-sung, a deputy chief prosecutor at the Daegu High Prosecutors’ Office, was convicted of arranging for then-opposition politicians to file criminal complaints against members of the then-ruling camp, namely Democrats.

“President Yoon first acted as if the scandal was a scheme against himself, and then he pretended not to know anything about it. Yoon, along with Han Dong-hoon and the People Power Party, needed to apologize to the Korean people and take responsibility for the scandal,” said Hong Ihk-pyo, the floor leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, during a policy coordination meeting at the National Assembly on Thursday morning.

Son, who was tried for his role in drafting the criminal complaints at the time, was convicted by the Seoul Central District Court on Wednesday on charges of leaking official secrets and violating the Personal Information Protection Act and the Criminal Justice Procedure Digitalization Promotion Act. He was given a one-year prison sentence.

“The court has ruled on an attempt by a cabal of politically motivated prosecutors to collude with the political establishment and undermine the foundation of our democracy,” Hong said regarding Wednesday’s verdict.

“This shows that Yoon Suk-yeol exploited the prosecution service for his own ends: to satisfy his political ambitions. While the court said that Son cannot be convicted of violating the Public Officials Election Act for technical reasons, it separately described the behavior in question as a serious violation of [prosecutors’ obligation to maintain] political neutrality. That’s a clear statement of the harm caused by prosecutors with a political agenda.”

“Public prosecutors are being used for one person’s private gain. They’ve meddled in politics, and they’ve meddled in an election. This is an outrageous assault on the institutions of the state, and the parties responsible must be brought to justice,” said Park Ju-min, the Democratic Party’s chief deputy floor leader.

Yoon Suk-yeol was prosecutor general when allegations were raised about the political meddling scheme.

By Kang Jae-gu, staff reporter

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