SEOUL, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- A former chief justice of the Supreme Court in South Korea was arrested on charges of manipulating court rulings, including the case involving South Korean workers of forced labor at Japanese factories during World War II.
The Seoul District Court issued an arrest warrant against former chief justice Yang Seung-tae Thursday over more than 40 allegations of manipulating court cases and abusing his authority to influence the promotion of judges, South Korean media reported. The 71-year-old former judge became the first to be arrested on criminal charges in South Korea's state judicial history.
South Korean prosecutors alleged that Yang deliberately delayed the final verdict on the forced labor cases in an attempt to reduce a diplomatic burden on then-President Park Geun-hye, who was impeached over corruption and abusing her authority.
Yang's alleged rigging of the court cases was seen as to win support from President Park in establishing a new appeals court.
The South Korean Supreme Court ruled last fall that Japanese firms should compensate South Korean victims of forced labor during WWII. The diplomatic relations between South Korean and Japan have deteriorated since then.
Japan has criticized the South Korean court ruling, claiming that any compensation issues under the 1910-45 Japanese colonial rule over Korean were settled in a 1965 agreement that normalized the diplomatic relation.
Yang has denied the allegations, saying he "doesn't remember" any of them or he wasn't aware as they were handled by his staffers.