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Clinton offers regret over Nogun-ri incident; lawyers to file suit

Clinton offers regret over Nogun-ri incident; lawyers to file suit

Posted January. 12, 2001 18:52,   


U.S. President Bill Clinton Friday expressed regret over the killing by U.S. soldiers of Korean civilians at Nogun-ri during the Korean War (1950-1953) and offered his condolences to the families of the victims.

Clinton said in a statement, ``On behalf of the United States of America, I deeply regret that Korean civilians lost their lives at Nogun-ri at the end of June in 1950.¡¯¡¯

The U.S. President said he understands the sense of loss and sadness still felt by survivors and the families of the victims even a half century after the incident.

In a separate statement at the Pentagon, U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen said, ``It is painful to recollect this kind of incident, but neither Americans nor Koreans should bury this history. We should never forget that innocent Korean civilians lost their lives as a result of war.¡¯¡¯

Announcing the results of a 15-month Korea-U.S. investigation of the incident, Charles Cragin, senior deputy assistant secretary of defense, said that in the desperate opening weeks of the Korean War, U.S. soldiers killed or injured an unconfirmed number of Korean refugees at Nogun-ri, but there is no evidence that oral or written orders were given to shoot and kill South Korean civilians at that time.

He also said that the United States would neither compensate the victims, nor prosecute American veterans involved in the incident. But the U.S. government will set up a monument to the victims as a ``symbol of deep regret¡¯¡¯ and start a scholarship project to provide young Korean students with an opportunity to study in Korea and the U.S. to help strengthen relations between the two countries, he said.

Clinton said a memorial would be built to honor ``these and all other innocent Korean civilians'' killed during the 1950-53 war. He said the United States would establish a scholarship fund ``as a living tribute to their memory.''

Meanwhile, American lawyers for the victims of the incident denounced the U.S. Army report, which belatedly admitting facts that the victims have been claiming for the past 50 years. They said the U.S. was passing the buck to the soldiers and lower-level officers involved in the incident.

They called it nonsense that the U.S. government denied there were orders to shoot, saying this was proved clearly through testimony and various pieces of circumstantial evidence, and rejected compensating the victims. They said they would file compensation suits in U.S. federal court for $500,000 per death.