Supreme Court confirms acquittal of ex-judge in alleged power abuse case

SEOUL-- The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld lower courts' acquittal of a former judge accused of meddling in several politically sensitive trials during the previous administration.

The top court confirmed a not guilty verdict by a district court and an appellate court for Lim Seong-geun, a former senior justice of the Seoul High Court who was indicted in 2019 on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of another person's exercise of right for allegedly meddling in several trials between 2015 and 2016.

Lim was accused of having exerted his influence in 2015 on a libel suit filed by the government against a Japanese journalist who questioned then-President Park Geun-hye's whereabouts during the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster.

He allegedly pressured a judge to state during a hearing that the report by Tatsuya Kato of Japan's Sankei Shimbun was fraudulent. Kato was found not guilty.

Lim also allegedly requested another judge rewrite a sentencing statement on left-leaning lawyers charged with illegal demonstrations and stepped in to mitigate penalties on two professional baseball players involved in illegal overseas gambling.

The district and appellate courts ruled in 2020 and 2021, respectively, that Lim did not have the authority to interfere in other judges' trials and his acts do not constitute the crimes he was charged with.

Due to the allegations of meddling in trials, Lim became the nation's first judge to be impeached by the National Assembly in February last year. But the Constitutional Court rejected the parliamentary impeachment of Lim last October, saying there is no point in deliberating the case because the then-retired judge cannot be sacked.

Source: Yonhap News Agency