The trial of Pastor Jeong Myeong-seok of JMS failed to admit the evidence due to no original file… The burden of proof lies with the prosecution.

*The original article can be found here.

Hwang Seong-ik reporter | June 25 2024 19:11

  • Since the beginning, an audio file without evidentiary capability was admitted as evidence in the first trial.

  • The court determined that the burden of proof for the admission of evidence lies with the prosecution.

  • Based on the results of the private appraisal, a complaint will be filed against those involved in manipulating the audio file.

The second trial of President Jeong of the Christian Gospel Mission was held today, the 25th, at the Daejeon High Court.

(Economic Magazine=Hwang Seong-ik reporter) The appeal trial of Pastor Jeong, President of the Christian Gospel Mission (JMS), was held this morning, [June] 25th, in the 3rd Criminal Division of the Daejeon High Court, presided over by Chief Judge Kim Byung-sik. Intense arguments ensued over the analysis results of an audio file, which a Hong Kong female believer, Ms. M, claimed to have recorded at the scene of the incident.

In the previous hearing, the court commissioned two specialized institutions, including the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, to verify the audio file in consideration of fairness. However, the court reported that both institutions responded by stating that it was impossible to analyze a copy of the file without the original.

Furthermore, the court informed that the burden of proof for evidence admission lies with the prosecution and stated that if the evidence is not properly substantiated, then the evidentiary capability of the audio file may be excluded.

Pastor Jeong’s defense submitted the results of private appraisals conducted by two external specialized institutions prior to the public appraisal. In response, the prosecution questioned the qualifications of the appraisal institutions and appraisers. The defense countered by asserting that the institutions and appraisers are sufficiently credible and stated that they would submit supporting evidence to back this claim.

According to reports, the institution commissioned by the defendant for the audio analysis is known to be a specialized institution in South Korea composed of experts with doctoral degrees who specialize in audio analysis.

According to the private appraisal results, multiple male voices, other than the defendant’s, were identified. Even without the original file, making a public appraisal impossible, the private appraisal is still crucial in proving the inconsistency and lack of credibility in the complainant’s testimony. Pastor Jeong’s defense emphasized the necessity of verification.

After the trial, Pastor Jeong’s defense attorney stated that the defendant’s innocence is certain. The attorney informed the press that they would file complaints against the parties involved, based on the 97-minute audio recording, the voice analysis report of the audio file aired on Netflix’s “In the Name of God: A Holy Betrayal,” and the complainant’s false statements, etc.

(At Daejeon High Court on June 25th, Pastor Jeong’s defense attorneys, from the left: Kim Jong-chun and Lee Kyung-jun, are responding to questions from Christian Gospel Mission members and reporters who awaited the trial outcome.)

After the trial on the 25th, Pastor Jeong’s defense attorneys (from the law firm Geumyang) explained the details of today’s trial to reporters and Christian Gospel Mission members who were waiting at the main gate, followed by a question-and-answer session with the press.

At the press conference on that day, Pastor Jeong’s defense attorneys stated, “Since the audio recording file was used as a crucial piece of evidence in the first trial, if its evidentiary capability is invalidated in the second trial, it would generally favor the defendant. However, it is uncertain whether discrediting the evidentiary capability of the file would undermine the overall credibility of the remaining testimonies.”

Furthermore, Attorney Lee Kyung-jun from the law firm Geumyang stated, “If it is confirmed that the audio recording file has been edited or manipulated, ultimately, the credibility of the complainant’s entire testimony will be called into question. Moreover, we cannot exclude the possibility of their actively pursuing a planned complaint to frame Pastor Jeong as a criminal. Therefore, we will also address this aspect proactively.”

In response to questions from the press regarding the imminent verdict on July 25th and whether the verdict deadline seems tight, considering the additional witness examination process and the verification procedure for the audio recording file, it was stated that as a principle, if the trial does not conclude before the expiration of the detention term on August 15th, it is appropriate to release the defendant on bail.

However, the current wish of the defense is to not be limited by the expiration of the detention period, but rather, they hope that the trial proceedings will continue beyond the detention period if necessary to ensure the defendant’s right to a fair and complete trial.

(At the CESNUR conference held in Bordeaux, France on the 14th, one of the world’s major religious studies conferences, a research paper criticizing the unfairness and errors in Netflix’s “In the name of God” episode on JMS was presented.)

Amidst the ongoing appellate trial of Pastor Jeong Myeong-seok, the president of the Christian Gospel Mission (commonly known as JMS), controversy arose over the Netflix documentary “In the Name of God,” which has essentially turned into a trial by public opinion.

Recently, an issue has arisen following the presentation of a research paper at CESNUR (Center for Studies of New Religions), one of the major global religious studies conferences, critiquing the unfairness and errors in Netflix’s documentary series “In the Name of God,” particularly focusing on the JMS episode.

Dr. Lee Jin-myeong, who presented at the CESNUR (Center for Studies of New Religions) conference held in Bordeaux, France on the 14th, under the topic “Fake News, Legal Trials, and the Role of Media: The Case of the Providence Church in Netflix’s ‘In the Name of God,'” is known to have analyzed and discussed the impact of fake news on religion, specifically focusing on the JMS episode of Netflix’s “In the Name of God.”

He conclusively labeled “In the Name of God” as fake news because his analysis of the broadcast revealed serious instances of fabrication, editing, and intentional distortion. Through numerous examples, he presented evidence of manipulation and editing in “In the Name of God,” showing how the broadcast content led to erroneous conclusions in a misleading direction.

On that day, Dr. Lee Jin-myeong also addressed suspicions during his paper presentation about why the producer of “In the Name of God” chose to air it on Netflix instead of MBC, raising questions about the motivations behind this decision.

Firstly, distributing it through global distribution channels could have significantly raised awareness of the film.

Secondly, considering that accusations of edited content could lead to legal action, choosing overseas distribution over domestic might have been seen as a safer option, given the ease of legal action.

Thirdly, the biggest reason analyzed was the decision received from the Press Arbitration Commission on August 2, 2005. According to the decision, it states: Firstly, do not reuse or produce content that was broadcast on SBS in 1999, 2002, and 2004. Secondly, do not produce broadcasts with information that has been reported from two people (Mr. As) from an anti-JMS group.

However, most of the content broadcast in “In the Name of God” is based on material previously aired on SBS or information obtained from A, who is from an anti-JMS force. Dr. Lee claimed that by producing and distributing through global distributors unaffected by these constraints, they aimed to circumvent the issues, violating the Press Arbitration Commission’s directives.

On that day, the court announced that it would give the final verdict for Pastor Jeong’s second trial on July 25th. However, Pastor Jeong’s defense attorneys requested sufficient time for trial proceedings to ensure the defendant’s right to a fair trial, as additional witness examinations and the final appraisal results for the audio recording file had not concluded yet.

Hwang Seong-ik reporter

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