The Seoul High Court began the first hearing for An, who was acquitted by the lower court in August.
|Former South Chungcheong Province Gov. An Hee-jung appears at Seoul High Court on Friday. (Yonhap)|
Appearing in front of the Seoul High Court at 10 a.m., An said, “Sorry I do not have anything to say,” when asked if he denied the accusations. Protesters who had surrounded the entrance to the court building called for his detention.
The former provincial governor was indicted on charges that he sexually abused his secretary, Kim Ji-eun, by using his occupational authority.
Kim publicly accused An of sexual assault during a live TV interview in March, saying several assaults had taken place while she worked as his secretary from 2017 to February this year.
In April the prosecutors requested a four-year prison term for An, charging him with five counts of committing an “indecent act by compulsion,” four counts of “sexual abuse by occupational authority” and one count of committing an “indecent act through abuse of occupational authority.”
An denied all the charges, saying his extramarital relationship with Kim was of a consensual, romantic nature.
After a four-month trial, the lower court acquitted An of all charges, citing lack of evidence.
An hour before An’s appearance at the appeals court on Friday, a joint committee representing woman rights groups stood in front of the court building as part of a silent rally denouncing the former governor. Some 30 women stood holding signs reading, “Admit (you) sexually abused, using (your) authority,” and “Victim-like victims do not exist,” but they did not speak.
It is An’s first appearance at the appellate court, as he was not obligated to take part in the two preparatory hearings that preceded Friday’s hearing.
Because it is a sexual offense case, the court may decide to hold some of the hearings behind closed doors.
The appellate court said it will hold two more hearings, on Jan. 4 and 9, and deliver a ruling Feb. 1.
By Jo He-rim (firstname.lastname@example.org)