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Ex-Supreme Court chief denies suspicions of using trials for bargaining

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae said Friday that he never used politically sensitive trials as bargaining chips in the top court's dealing with the presidential office over organizational changes when he was in office.

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae speaks to reporters near his home in Seongnam, south of Seoul, on June 1, 2018. (Yonhap)

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae speaks to reporters near his home in Seongnam, south of Seoul, on June 1, 2018. (Yonhap)

Yang has been under fire after an internal probe revealed that the National Court Administration under the top court wrote a report in March 2015 on how to take advantage of high-profile cases in persuading senior presidential aides into supporting then-Chief Justice Yang's plan to establish a court of appeals.

The agency's officials allegedly communicated frequently with then-President Park Geun-hye's aides and influential politicians over cases, such as those involving an opposition lawmaker, a former spy chief and the progressive teachers' union.

Current Supreme Court Chief Kim Meong-su apologized to the nation over the allegations Thursday. Kim also said he would consider taking action to criminally punish those involved in the wrongdoing, suggesting judges could undergo prosecution investigation, possibly including Yang.

On Friday, Yang rejected allegations of his involvement.

"While serving as chief justice at the Supreme Court, I never unfairly interfered with trials and used trials for bargaining," Yang told reporters near his home in Seongnam, south of Seoul.

Yang also said no disadvantage was given to judges who opposed his proposal to set up a court of appeals. Source from the Yonhap.

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