Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Yang Sung-tae was released on bail Monday after 179 days of detention over his role in a judiciary power abuse scandal.
The Seoul Central District Court approved Yang's release on a bail of 300 million won ($255,000), attaching strict conditions that he stays in his residence in Seongnam, south of Seoul, and neither meets nor communicates with people related to his charges.
He was also ordered to obtain court approval before traveling for longer than three days or going on an overseas trip and to comply with a summons from the court.
The court warned that if Yang violates his bail conditions, the bail will be canceled and he could be subject to a fine of up to 10 million won or detention of up to 20 days.
Yang was arrested Feb. 11 on charges that he used trials as bargaining chips in dealings with the office of former conservative President Park Geun-hye to support his bid to establish a court of appeals. Yang, who headed the top court from 2011-17, is accused of having pressed his officials at the National Court Administration, the top court's governing body, to devise plans to influence politically sensitive trials for Park, who is now jailed over corruption charges.
The local court's decision to release Yang has long been anticipated, as the six-month mandate of his detention warrant expires Aug. 11. Yang's first court hearing was held on May 29 amid expectations of a protracted legal battle. Due to the strict conditions attached to bail, Yang's lawyers have demanded his unconditional release after Aug. 11.
Yang is the first chief justice ever to have been arrested as a criminal suspect. He has flatly denied the charges against him and denounced the prosecution for manipulating them.
He made a bail request shortly after his indictment in Feb., claiming he needs the time and physical freedom to better prepare for the trial, but the Seoul court rejected it. (Yonhap)