JMS Jung Myung-seok’s Appeal Trial Resumes: Will the First Trial Ruling Shake Up the Key Issues?

*The original article can be found here.

  • Procedural problems with the admission of evidence in the first trial

  • Need for a copy of the “audio files” CD for the defendant’s right to defend

  • Request for “Wolmyeongdong site verification” by JMS lawyers

[Economic Magazine, reporter Hwang Sung-ik] On the 5th, the first appellate hearing for Pastor Jung Myung-seok of the Christian Gospel Mission (commonly known as JMS) was held at the Daejeon High Court, 3rd Criminal Division, with Judge Kim Byung-sik presiding. On this day, Pastor Jeong’s defense lawyers began by explaining the grounds for appeal, citing errors in factual findings and legal application.

Amid reports that a lawsuit for damages has been filed against Netflix headquarters on March 1st, Pastor Jeong’s lawyers also mentioned public opinion trials, stating, “Due to the documentary ‘In the Name of God’ on Netflix, which has not been fact-checked, more than 10,000 negative news articles have been formed, which may have influenced the verdict negatively.”

It is noteworthy that on this day, the court pointed out issues in the evidence admission process and requested clarification if there were opinions from the prosecution regarding the adoption of evidence despite its lack of credibility according to Supreme Court precedents.

Furthermore, doubts were raised about the legality of the process of confiscating copies of the “audio recording files” allegedly recorded by the plaintiff at the scene of the incident, as forensic experts weren’t involved.

While the court expressed the view that it seemed necessary to have a copy of the “audio files” CD, as requested by the defendant’s lawyers, the prosecution argued against it, citing secondary victimization. However, the court rebutted, stating that providing evidence to protect the defendant’s right to defense is a basic principle, dismissing the prosecution’s argument.

Additionally, if the court accepts the issues raised regarding legal misinterpretation of Supreme Court precedents in the first trial, the problems in the evidence admission process, the requests for a copy of the audio recordings, and the defendant’s site verification requests, then these are expected to emerge as key points of contention in the case.

The church members council composed of believers of the Christian Gospel Mission (commonly known as JMS) strongly objected when sentences ranging from 7 years to 3 years of imprisonment were handed down to female officials arrested as accomplices of Pastor Jung Myung-seok.

On the 6th, there was a final trial for the female pastors accused of being accomplices at the Daejeon High Court, 1st Criminal Division, with Judge Park Jin-hwan presiding.

On that day, the prosecution, like in the first trial, reiterated its claim during the sentencing hearing that evidence confirming Pastor Jeong’s involvement in sexual crimes had been found, but they did not provide any additional evidence beyond the existing testimonies.

The defense lawyers for the “co-conspirators and accomplices,” also accused of aiding and abetting, strongly argued against the prosecution’s claims during the two-hour final plea, pointing out violations of laws related to aiding and abetting and highlighting factual errors. They vehemently asserted the innocence of their clients.

All four co-conspirator and accomplice defendants, who are also female pastors, claimed not only ignorance of Pastors Jeong’s wrongdoing but also denied having ever witnessed it. They argued that the inconsistencies in the victim’s testimony were not considered in the first trial, ignoring the context of the truth.

Furthermore, they raised the possibility of contamination of the victim’s testimony, citing evidence such as contact with Professor Kim, who operated an anti-JMS organization, and defendant A, who served as a missionary director, as well as the request for Professor Kim to testify made by an Australian co-conspirator during the court proceedings. They argued that given Professor Kim’s involvement in JMS-related broadcast production, there was a possibility of contamination of the victim’s testimony.

Even in their final testimonies, the defendant co-conspirators and accomplice pastors stated they had never witnessed Pastor Jeong’s sexual misconduct even until the day the victim claimed the incident had occurred, and if they had witnessed such misconduct, they would have already left the Christian Gospel Mission. They strongly asserted their innocence, suggesting that if they believed such facts existed, they would have encouraged the defendants to confess and pleaded for leniency.

The final appeal verdict for these co-conspirators and accomplices is scheduled for Friday morning, April 12th.

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