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Police to Punish Candlelight Vigil Organizers

Posted May. 14, 2008 08:36,   


Police say they will punish organizers of candlelight vigils held against U.S. beef imports.

They have also secured the IDs of 21 Internet users who spread groundless rumors related to mad cow disease on the Internet in hopes of identifying them.

At a press conference held at a police station in central Seoul, National Police Agency Commissioner General Eo Cheong-soo said, “Organizers have argued that the gatherings are cultural events. However, the candlelight vigils were illegal demonstrations that were not given the go ahead by police in advance. We’ll definitely track down and punish the organizers.”

Eo added, “Police are searching for the spreaders of the rumors. If we find those who are behind the cell phone text messages saying schools will close on May 17, we’ll punish them on the grounds of interference with business.”

Police asked portal site operators including Naver, Daum, and Nate to identify the IDs of 21 Internet users who are suspected of spreading the groundless rumors. The rumors said among other things that “President Lee Myung-bak has already given Korea’s territorial rights of the Dokdo islets to Japan,” and that “Lee has allowed the Korean people to be infected with the human version of mad cow disease by yielding to the U.S. without any rational thought.”

Police explained, “We identified four people. However, it remains to be seen whether they really posted the messages or they are just imaginary users. We cannot sue a person for libel unless the victim files a lawsuit. But, we’re still investigating.”

Head of the investigation Song Kang-ho said, “We have already found legal grounds to punish those who spread the rumor about the planned closure of schools on May 17. But, we have to investigate further to punish those who spread other rumors. We’ll summon related people and confirm whether they are involved in the rumors and punish them appropriately.”