By Kim Jeong-hwan
Social & Political reporter
Nowadays, the prosecution was depressed because court acquitted current trials continuously. Two of judgments of acquittal were intensified conflicts between the court and the prosecution. One was related to assemblyman Kang gi-gab and the other was related to <PD Note>, the TV program reveals social problem. The both judgments were announced immediately. The press reported articles constantly and civic groups gave their individual opinions. However, strife between the court and the prosecution was embossed than judgments. As a result, it raised new issue; the reform of judicial power.
There was prejudice between the court and the prosecution. Prosecutors recognized that judges imposed excessively tolerant punishment, while judges thought that prosecutors did immoderate investigation about so-called one case and neglected human rights. The court pronounced innocence about the events charged by prosecutors and caused social controversy. The prosecution resisted to the court awfully as they were criticized that credibility was fallen by immoderate indictment.
Last January of 14th, Seoul Southern District Court judged assemblyman Kang Ki-kab innocent. He was prosecuted for compulsory winding-up toward party executive, sitting-down in National Assembly. The secretariat of the National Assembly condemned him as obstruction of justice. Furthermore, the prosecution requested one and a half year in prison. However, the judge found Kang not guilty. In the sentencing, the court said that it couldn’t be punished though they forced assault or threat against public official who did duty lacking in legality. The prosecution insists the decision of the court was unconvincing and left a bad precedent about act of violence in National Assembly.
After six days, Seoul Central District Court acquitted 5 production crews of <PD Note>, TV program, including Neung-hee Jo, the producer. He was under indictment on charge of defamation against Jeong Un-cheon, former minister of Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and Min Dong-suk, former policy officer. Justice department said the contents emphasized by the prosecution cannot be recognized as false. the prosecution claimed the following contents; reporting downer cow as though bounded to be taken mad cow disease, reporting about Aretha Vinson and Korean is vulnerable to mad cow disease because of gene shape. Justice department also said that it was enough itself to harbor suspicion about danger of mad cow disease from American beef and problem of processing import negotiation without the broadcast of PD Note. Moreover, PD Note criticized with firm basis such as listening expert’s opinion. Justice department did not admit deliberate distorted claims. The prosecution was exasperated about unconvincing judgment. In case of civil trial conducted already, High Court judged that production crews had to correction broadcast. Their position was decision about factual relation of the fomer trial was wrong.
Hunting the judiciary
Controversy among civic groups
Conservative civic groups that had complaints about judgment of the court threw some eggs toward official vehicle boarded Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Also, they threatened the judge in front of his house as mentioning his real name. They held a rally in front of the judge’s house and did illegal protest with throwing eggs. In the end, it was took a measure about the judge to protect from danger.
Freedom Advance Association emphasized it was action to degrade court’s credit that the court sought constitutionalism decided a verdict ignored law and it would be achieved reform of the judiciary. On the contrary, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy claimed command of the prosecution took responsibility about immoderate indictment and it was a chance to reflect authority abuse of the prosecution. Citizen’s Coalition for Economic Justice said that they should go through something like arbitration of the press though reporting of PD Note was false and it was wrong to use judicial power at once.
The ruling party and conservative press, shout out reform of the judicial
Hannaradang showed strong discontent. The party loudly request dissolution of Society for Research on Our Law (SROL), group of reformist judges, in Hannaradang. They claimed that the court had political color as SROL occupied key posts in the last government. They recognized that judges, gone great in last government, has hold important offices and Lee Yong-hun, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was peak.
Conservative press, be a ignition point of controversy
In those days of judgment of acquittal, most of the press brought conflict between the court and the prosecution in relief than innocence. They reported a conflict as political and ideological confrontation. The conflict between the court and the prosecution was tinged with political color by the press; especially the conservative press. The report made cloudy view to understand this event. At once, it became the foundation for Hannaradang to force the judiciary.
Why did Hannaradang request breakup of Society for Research on Our Law?
They do not have any card to keep the judiciary in check substantially. The ruling party intervenes in human resources affairs of the judiciary because it is divided by the Constitution and law. In addition, not only the leading members of the judiciary but also general judges are guaranteed their term for 10 years if they are appointed. Therefore, the ruling party has pay attention to change of the appointment. Hannardang’s Special Committee on Judicial Improvement was built in hurry for observation of the chief probation officer rather than chief executives of the judiciary. Officers of committee said, “Problem is in the chief probation officer. They adjudicated at their pleasure as they managed solo judge. There is no way to control them because each judge is independent organ.” They were conscious a fact that it was all solo judges to decide verdict about <PD Note> and Kang gi-gab. As political events forced by present government ware put on the brakes in law court. Controversy about immoderate indictment was occurred and they felt sense of crisis that it was possible to shake basis of government administration.
In case of criminal suit, if defendant’s charge is imprisonment or confinement for over 1 year, that event is gone to agreement and the rest is gone to sole judge. The chief probation officer, career from 5 years to 14 years, is placed in criminal solo judge. Content discussed in Hannardang is to change this system.
Time to take Self-reflection
The court, provided clue of controversy, has to feel heavy responsibility because series of judgment made opposition of the prosecution and intervention of political community and civic groups. They should look back whether they disregard clear proof and constitutional principles or not. In addition, they must make sure the point that independence of the judiciary does not mean self-righteousness of judge and the proprietary of trial.
That goes for the prosecution, too. They have to examine political and ideological events, including the current incidents, whether they identify illegality certainly in indictment step or not.
The ruling party and the conservative press have clouded the issue as separate sides in confrontation between the court and the prosecution. They will reform the judiciary to use this confrontation. They dressed political color toward the court and the prosecution for their purpose through the press.
Political community has to control incoherent voice of reforming the judiciary. It is desirable that measure for securing justice of verdict is discussed in National Assembly. If they show behavior that the ruling party defends the prosecution and the opposition party covers up for the court, like right now, it is difficult to gain sympathy of the people regardless of right and wrong.
The court, the prosecution and political communities should discuss reform of the judiciary under condition of separation of legal, administrative, and judicial powers. However, the most important thing is that the press has to keep neutrality.< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >