[Newsmaker] Former deputy head of court administration grilled over alleged power abuses

By Jo He-rim
  • Published : Oct 15, 2018 - 10:34
  • Updated : Oct 15, 2018 - 16:33

The prosecutors grilled a former deputy chief of the top court’s administration affairs body, who is at the center of the massive judiciary power abuse scandal involving former Supreme Court Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae, Monday.

Lim Jong-hun, the former deputy chief of the National Court Administration, appeared in front of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office at around 9:20 a.m. He is accused of aiding Yang in using politically sensitive trials as bargaining chips to win favor from the presidential office.

“I feel great responsibility and I apologize to the people for the crisis the judiciary is facing right now,” Lim said.

“I am regretful that my colleagues and subordinates who devoted themselves to the court are facing difficulties. I will clarify some of the misunderstandings about the allegations brought up against me.” 

Lim Jong-hun, former deputy chief of the National Court Administration, appears to attend a prosecutorial investigation in front of Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, Monday. (Yonhap)

When asked if he had taken orders from the former top court chief, he said he would sincerely explain the situation to the investigators.

Yang served as the top court chief from 2011 until 2017. The prosecutors suspect that Lim, who served as head of planning and coordination under Yang’s direction from 2012 until last year, was a de facto leader and was therefore responsible for many of the irregularities alleged to have taken place during those years.

According to the investigators, in October 2013 Lim visited Joo Cheol-gi, then the presidential secretary for foreign affairs under former President Park Geun-hye. Lim is accused of discussing the outcome of a court case in which some elderly Koreans had filed suit against two Japanese companies over forced labor during the Japanese colonial period. Lim also requested that more judges be dispatched overseas, investigators say.

The Korean plaintiffs, victims of forced labor perpetrated by the two companies during Japanese rule, were awaiting the top court’s verdict on whether to award damages in the case. Yang’s office allegedly delayed the ruling as then-President Park sought to improve ties with Japan.

The prosecutors suspect Lim of creating a 273-page report in November 2016 analyzing whether the ousted former president had violated laws against abusing power. Park was still in office and facing impeachment at that time.

Lim is accused of playing a critical role in interfering in the trial, which led to the ruling that the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union was an illegal union, and of leading secret investigations of judges who were deemed critical of Yang’s office.

The prosecution raided Lim’s home and office in July and seized a USB flash drive upon which many related documents were stored.

By Jo He-rim (