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Court to resume hearing over top prosecutor's injunction request against duty suspension

Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl (Yonhap)
Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl (Yonhap)
A court here will resume a hearing Thursday afternoon on an injunction request by the country's top prosecutor over a disciplinary measure given to him last week.

The Seoul Administrative Court is set to reopen the hearing behind closed doors at 3 p.m. on whether to grant an injunction filed by Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl.

The first hearing took place Tuesday afternoon for about two hours, attended by lawyers of Yoon and the Ministry of Justice.

Yoon is not expected to attend the hearing. He was absent from Tuesday's hearing, as he did at a previous injunction hearing late last month and at two sessions of the justice ministry's disciplinary committee earlier this month.

Last week, President Moon Jae-in approved the ministry's decision to suspend the top prosecutor for two months over four counts of alleged misconduct, including the surveillance of judges hearing cases on former Justice Minister Cho Kuk and presidential officials' alleged involvement in the Ulsan mayoral election in 2018 to bring victory to one of Moon's longtime friends.

The measure went into effect immediately.

Yoon filed an injunction Thursday night, along with a separate administrative lawsuit against the decision, claiming that the disciplinary session had procedural errors and the allegations against him were not true.

He also argued the measure to bar him from performing his duty seriously undermined the values of political impartiality and independence at the prosecution. Also major investigations, including a probe into the controversial closure of the Wolsong-1 nuclear reactor, could be dealt a serious setback, he added.

Refuting Yoon's claims, the justice ministry argued the measure, endorsed by the president, observed procedural due process and was taken in accordance with the president's rights and responsibility under the Constitution.

Among the issues being discussed at the hearing included whether the suspension caused "irreparable damage," how it affected the public's well-being and whether there have been procedural flaws in the process leading up to the disciplinary decision.

His two-year term was scheduled to finish in July next year.

On Dec. 1, the same court granted a preliminary injunction to halt his temporary removal imposed by Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae over allegations of a series of misconduct. The ministry, undeterred, proceeded with its disciplinary panel discussions twice to eventually discipline him.

A court verdict can be issued as early as late at night, but some experts expect the deliberations to take over a week or two, given the gravity of the matter. (Yonhap)