South Korea’s Supreme Court on Tuesday lifted a ban on the filming of trials ahead of the sentencing of disgraced president Park Geun-Hye and Samsung heir Lee Jae-Yong, which now indicates the possibility of live TV coverage of high-profile trials.
At a rare meeting of justices presided over by Chief Justice Yang Sung-Tae, the court adopted new regulations on the filming of trials, effective August 1.
“With the amendment, live TV coverage of lower court and appeals court sentencings will be permitted”, it said.
The measure will help enhance the “people’s right to know”, it added.
Supreme Court spokesman Judge Cho Byung-Koo told AFP the move gives lower and appeal court judges a free hand in deciding whether to allow live TV coverage of verdicts and sentencings.
“If the courts decide in favor of allowing live transmissions on the grounds of public interest, the decision will overrule protests from the accused”, he said.
“But at moments of sentencing, TV cameras will be ordered to be angled to show the judge only, not the accused”, he said.
Following the decision, it is widely expected that live TV coverage of Park’s sentencing, expected in October, and Samsung heir Lee will be available.
The decision came after a large number of the public called for live broadcasts in key trials such as those of Park and Lee.
Park, 65, has been on trial over a sprawling corruption scandal that saw millions take to the streets and led to her downfall. She was impeached by parliament in December after mass demonstrations demanding her removal over a scandal centered on her long-time friend Choi Soon-Sil and implicating some of the country’s top businessmen.
Park was detained soon after her dismissal and indicted on 18 charges including bribery, coercion, and abuse of power for offering governmental favors to tycoons.
On one of the most serious count, she is accused of taking or seeking bribes totaling 59.2 billion won ($52 million) for her friend Choi or herself, most of which went to non-profit foundations which Choi controlled.
At Lee’s trial Tuesday, prosecutors said Park and Lee secretly met unaccompanied three times in 2014, 2015 and last year and discussed bribes in return for policy favors including government support for Lee’s succession to the business empire of his bed-ridden father Lee Kun-Hee.
Lee’s lawyers, however, dismissed the allegations as “groundless assumptions”.
Lee’s verdict and sentence is expected to come late August.