Top prosecutor preparing to take legal action against justice minister’s decision

Nov 26, 2020, 09:30 am

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Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl speaks during an annual parliamentary audit of the Supreme Prosecutors Office at the National Assembly on Oct. 22, 2020./ Photographed by Lee Byung-hwa (photolbh@)

AsiaToday reporter Lee Wook-jae 

Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl is reportedly preparing to take legal action against Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae’s order to suspend his duties. The Justice Ministry will convene a committee as early as next week to decide the degree of disciplinary action against the nation’s chief prosecutor. Once the committee finalizes its decision, Choo will make a related request to President Moon Jae-in. Depending on the results of the meeting, Yoon might be punished, or even dismissed.

The top prosecutor did not go to work at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office on Wednesday as the justice minister’s order took effect immediately on Tuesday.

Initially, Yoon was preparing to attend a general meeting of the National Assembly Legislation and Judiciary Committee from his residence in Seoul as the main opposition People Power Party sought to summon him to hear his opinions on the matter. However, Yoon’s attendance was not realized, as the ruling Democratic Party, which controls the standing committee, dispersed the meeting shortly after it opened.

Yoon missed the opportunity to clarify his position; however he is reportedly preparing to take legal action. 

He is denying all the six allegations that Choo leveled against him when she announced his suspension. He revealed Tuesday that the suspension of duty was “unfair” and that he intended to take legal action. He plans to file an administrative claim Thursday with the Seoul Administrative Court to seek to overturn the suspension. Yoon is expected to take legal action as soon as possible to minimize time out of the office. In the case of a request for suspension of execution, the result of the application comes out quite quickly since it is a matter related to personal affairs. Once the court accepts it, Yoon will be allowed to return to work immediately.

The Justice Ministry is rushing to form a disciplinary committee. According to legal circles on Wednesday, the justice minister is expected to convene the committee as early as next week and initiate disciplinary proceedings against Yoon.

The committee will consist of seven members, including the justice minister and deputy minister, two prosecutors and external legal experts. The justice minister has the authority to select five of the seven people. Any disciplinary action requires a majority vote.

However, the justice minister, who is the one who sought disciplinary action against Yoon in the first place, is not allowed to participate in the deliberation process under the relevant law. 

The committee is allowed to call in Yoon for in-person questioning. Yoon may appoint a special lawyer to make written or oral statements and to submit evidence. He is also given an opportunity to make a final statement. If Yoon is not present, the committee may proceed with the deliberation in written form.

There are five levels of punishment, with dismissal the heaviest and a reprimand the lightest. If the committee decides to impose any penalty stronger than a salary reduction, the minister will have to seek the approval of President Moon Jae-in. 

In this regard, the ministry told reporters that it would seek disciplinary action against him over allegations that he ordered illegal inspection of judges involved in controversial cases through one of the units of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office in charge of data collection.

#Yoon Seok-youl #prosecutor general #Justice Ministry #Choo Mi-ae #legal action 
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