(ATTN: UPDATES with details of ruling in paras 6-8,10)
By Park Bo-ram
SEOUL, Oct. 14 (Yonhap) -- A Seoul court on Thursday upheld a disciplinary measure that the justice ministry took against then Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl for alleged misconduct last year in what could be a blow to the now leading opposition presidential contender.
In December, the justice ministry suspended Yoon for two months, accusing him of violating political neutrality and other misconduct amid a row between Yoon and then Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae over reform of the prosecution.
Yoon immediately filed lawsuits seeking an injunction on the measure and its ultimate revocation, disputing the alleged misconduct and claiming flaws in the disciplinary process. He was reinstated about a week later as a court accepted his injunction request.
Yoon ultimately resigned as prosecutor general in March and is now a leading presidential hopeful of the main opposition People Power Party.
On Thursday, the Seoul Administrative Court ruled that the two-month suspension should be retained.
The court accepted three of the four reasons behind the disciplinary action, including allegations that he obstructed a probe into what is known as a press-prosecution collusion case involving one of his close associates and ordered surveillance reports on judges in charge of important cases.
"The acknowledged reasons for the disciplinary action constitute a serious wrongdoing that violates the legitimacy and fairness of the prosecution duties," the court said, adding that they are serious enough to warrant even dismissal from office.
The court, however, dismissed the ministry's claim that Yoon made remarks that violated political neutrality.
The decision is expected to be symbolic as Yoon has already stepped down as prosecutor general, though it could deal a blow to his image by undermining his stance that the disciplinary measure is baseless and politically motivated.
Yoon's lawyer hinted that he will appeal the latest court ruling.