South Korea’s top prosecutor to be suspended for 2 months
Seoul, Dec 16 (efe-epa).- A disciplinary committee of the South Korean justice ministry decided on Wednesday to suspend prosecutor general Yoon Seok-youl from duty for two months, in an unprecedented move attributed to ethical and legal violations.
Suspension is the third most severe disciplinary measure of five in South Korea for a prosecutor, and can be carried out by the president on the recommendation of the justice minister. It is expected that President Moon Jae-in will execute the decision.
It is the first time in South Korea’s democratic history that a sitting prosecutor general has faced disciplinary action.
South Korean Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae has accused Yoon of six ethical and legal lapses. The minister suspended the prosecutor general last month but he returned to work after winning an injunction against the order.
The disciplinary committee made its decision to suspend Yoon after finding him responsible for four of the six allegations, including surveillance of the judiciary, interference in the investigation of a controversial case involving a journalist and damage to his political neutrality.
Yoon, who did not appear at the committee’s hearing, has denied all the allegations.
His defense counsel asked for a third hearing on another day to allow time to prepare Yoon’s final statement, however this was denied, prompting his lawyers to walk out, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.
“We tried hard to vindicate (Yoon), but I get a feeling that, regardless of our efforts, the justice ministry had already made up its mind,” Yoon’s lawyer, Lee Wan-kyu, told reporters.
He described the disciplinary process as “illegal and unfair” and promised to “respond accordingly” to overturn the decision.
Yoon led the investigation into a corruption allegation involving President Moon’s administration. His disagreements with Choo, whom Moon appointed to drive prosecution reform, progressively worsened.
The disagreements led Choo to order Yoon’s suspension from duty, citing obstruction of inspections.
The country’s top prosecutor has filed a lawsuit, arguing that the committee, appointed by the justice minister, is unconstitutional. EFE-EPA