A former professor`s attack on a judge with a crossbow Monday sent shock waves through judicial circles and prompted calls for measures to safeguard the safety of judges.
Police yesterday sought an arrest warrant for the attacker, Kim Myung-ho, on charges of attempted homicide.
The 50-year-old former mathematics professor at Sungkyunkwan University shot Park Hong-woo, a 55-year-old Seoul High Court judge, in the stomach with a crossbow as payback for his loss of a legal dispute in an appellate court chaired by Park.
The enraged assailant was detained at the scene and the judge is recovering in hospital with his condition not life-threatening, hospital officials said.
<**1>The attack took place in front of Park`s apartment in Songpa-gu, southeastern Seoul with the crossbow bolt leaving a two-centimeter scar across his stomach.
According to police, Kim denied attempting to kill the judge.
"I`ve taken all legal measures to prove how corrupt our judicial system is where judges ignore the law," Kim was quoted as saying by police.
Kim appealed a lawsuit in 2005, in which he demanded reinstatement of his professorship after asserting that he was unfairly dismissed in 1996. A Seoul lower court rejected his demand and Park also denied his appeal after reviewing the case on Friday.
Following the attack, the Supreme Court is seeking ways to protect judges and to rebuild public trust in the judiciary. The nation`s top court yesterday held an urgent meeting with 20 judges and officials and plans to set up a national meeting with top judicial officials across the nation as soon as possible.
The meeting reviewed whether to consider holding a national meeting with senior judges across the country, discussing ways to protect judicial officials from danger and gathering ideas on how to prevent illegal activities aimed at destroying judicial authority.
"We`re shocked and surprised by the incident, which we see as not just a violent action, but an attack on our authority," a judicial official said.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Lee Yong-hun also urged the courts to make thorough preparations for ensuring the safety of judges.
The Supreme Court will reportedly focus on reestablishing the authority of the courts, believing the incident was brought on by disheartening issues last year, such as the constant dispute between prosecutors and judges over issuing warrants and a senior judge`s involvement in a corruption case.
"We have to seek measures to rebuild our destroyed authority," a senior judge said on conditions of anonymity. "We could hold court in-depth hearings and listen to the plaintiffs more, but fundamentally, establishing a trustworthy judiciary is the key."
By Annie I. Bang