Suspended Prison Sentence Confirmed for Member of Democratic Party of Korea
Sentenced to prison for ‘obstructing business’
Democratic Party of Korea member Choi Kang-wook has had his suspended prison sentence confirmed by the Supreme Court. Choi was accused of providing a false intern activity certificate to the son of former Justice Minister Cho Kuk, which led to his loss of seat in the National Assembly. The Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling, sentencing Choi to eight months in prison and two years of probation. As per the provisions of the Public Official Elections Act and the National Assembly Act, Choi’s prison sentence resulted in him being deprived of the right to stand for election until the sentence is completed.
The timing of the court’s decision, just days before Chief Justice Kim Myung-soo’s term ends, has raised concerns over delayed justice. It took nearly 4 years for the verdict, issued 3 years and 9 months after the indictment, which allowed Choi to serve as a National Assembly member for a majority of his term. This case gained political controversy after the ‘Cho Kuk Incident’, making Chief Justice Kim’s decision significant.
The Case and Key Issues
In October 2017, Choi was indicted for falsely certifying Cho Won, the son of former Minister Cho, as having worked as an intern at his law firm prior to applying to graduate school. The case revolved around the admissibility of electronic evidence, including internship confirmation letters and text messages retrieved from storage media hidden at Cho’s residence by private banker Kim Gyeong-rok, at the request of Cho’s spouse, former Dongyang University professor Jeong Kyung-sim.
Choi argued that the evidence, found on a PC seized from Cho’s residence, should be deemed inadmissible as the prosecution did not guarantee the participation rights of Cho and his wife. However, the Supreme Court rejected this argument in both the first and second trials, ruling that the hard disk’s evidentiary capacity was valid.
It is important to note that Supreme Court Justice Kim So-na, who had a personal relationship with Choi, refrained from participating in any aspect of the case. The Supreme Court, with a majority opinion of nine justices, dismissed the appeal, stating that Kim’s voluntary submission of the storage media transferred the right to control and dispose of the electronic information. Therefore, the prosecution’s failure to guarantee participation rights to Cho and his wife was legally justified.
Implications and Concluding Remarks
Following the sentencing, Choi expressed his respect for the conclusion reached by the current judicial system of the Republic of Korea. However, he expressed disappointment that his hopes for an innovative ruling on search and seizure procedures and the protection of victims’ human rights were in vain.
The Supreme Court’s decision in Choi’s case is expected to impact the second trial of former Minister Cho and his wife for their alleged involvement in entrance examination corruption. Both Cho and his wife had denied the charges in the first trial, utilizing similar arguments to Choi regarding the admissibility of evidence from their residence PC. Nevertheless, their defense was not accepted by the court.
This high-profile case highlights the importance of timely justice delivery and the obligation to safeguard participation rights, even in politically charged situations.
Sentenced to prison for ‘obstructing business’
Abuse of right to public prosecution, failure to recognize right to participation
Enjoyed three years as a member of the National Assembly… “Justice delayed”
Choi “Respect… “Guaranteeing human rights is a vain expectation”
Cho Kuk’s ‘entrance exam corruption’ is likely to have an impact on the second trial
▲ Choi Kang-wook, suspended prison sentence confirmed
Choi Kang-wook, a member of the Democratic Party of Korea, who is accused of giving a ‘false intern activity certificate’ to the son of former Justice Minister Cho Kuk, rides in a car after being sentenced to eight months in prison and two years of trial at the Supreme Court in Seocho-gu, Seoul on the afternoon of the 18th. Newsis Choi Kang-wook, a member of the Democratic Party of Korea, lost his seat on the 18th on charges of interfering with graduate school admissions by issuing a ‘false internship activity confirmation’ to the son of former Justice Minister Cho Kuk.
The full body of the Supreme Court (Chief Justice Kim Myeong-soo as the presiding judge and Justice Oh Gyeong-mi as the presiding judge) upheld the lower court’s ruling and sentenced Representative Choi, who was indicted on charges of obstructing business, to eight . a month in prison and two years’ probation. Representative Choi lost his position as a member of the National Assembly in accordance with the provisions of the Public Official Elections Act and the National Assembly Act, which deprives him of the right to stand for election if he is sentenced to prison or higher until the sentence. Finishing.
There is an evaluation that Chief Justice Kim Myung-soo, whose term in office is about to end on the 24th, has ended the case which became politically controversial after the ‘Cho Kuk Incident’. However, criticism is being raised that it ‘delays justice’ considering that the judgment was made 3 years and 9 months after the indictment and that Representative Choi enjoyed his status as a member of the National Assembly for 3 years and 5 months out of his 4 year term.
In October 2017, Rep. Choi was indicted on charges of falsely certifying former Minister Cho Won, former Minister Cho’s son, as if he had worked as an intern at his law firm prior to his application to graduate school.
The key issue in this case was whether electronic information such as internship confirmation letters and text messages contained in three storage media, including a PC hard drive, located at former Minister Cho’s residence could be admitted into evidence. These storage media were hidden by private banker (PB) Kim Gyeong-rok at the request of former Minister Cho’s spouse, former Dongyang University professor Jeong Kyung-sim, and arbitrarily presented to the prosecution.
Representative Choi’s side argued that the very subjects of the PC seizure on which the intern certificate was found were former Minister Cho and his wife, but as the prosecution did not guarantee their right to participate, the admissibility of the evidence. . In addition, Mr. Cho pleaded not guilty, claiming that he had actually done an experiential internship, but the court did not accept that. In the first and second trials, the Supreme Court consistently ruled that there was no problem with the evidentiary capacity of the hard disk.
Supreme Court Justice Kim So-na, who had a personal relationship with Representative Choi, avoided this case and did not participate in the hearing, agreement, or sentencing of the case. The Supreme Court en banc dismissed the appeal with a majority opinion of nine people. Three people expressed a different opinion.
The Supreme Court said, “In view of the transfer of the right to control and dispose of electronic information due to the act of concealing evidence, it is enough that Mr. Kim has had the opportunity to participate in the voluntary submission process, and it cannot be considered that there is illegality in not guaranteeing the participation rights of former Professor Jeong and others.” Barney. Since the rights of ownership and disposal of the hard disk were effectively transferred to Mr. Kim, the purpose is that it is not illegal even if the prosecution did not guarantee the participation rights of former Minister Cho and his wife.
After the sentence, Rep. Choi told reporters, “We have no choice but to respect it because that is the conclusion of the current judicial system of the Republic of Korea.” He also added, “I was hoping for an innovative ruling regarding indiscriminate search and seizure procedures and guaranteeing the victims’ human rights, but it seems that this was a vain hope.” he said.
This decision by the Supreme Court is expected to have an impact on the second trial of former Minister Cho and his wife for ‘entrance examination corruption’. Former Minister Cho and his wife denied the charges in the first trial, using the same logic as Rep. Choi and denying the admissibility of the resident PC as evidence, but it was not admitted.
Reporter Kang Yoon-hyuk
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