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Cabinet approves SOFA revision bill

Posted January. 16, 2001 19:04,   


The government approved the bill to revise the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which requires the transfer of custody of U.S. soldiers accused of crimes to the time of their indictment and guarantees their legal rights, in a Cabinet session Tuesday. President Kim Dae-Jung chaired the Cabinet session.

The government will send the bill to the National Assembly for ratification immediately after Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Lee Joung-Binn and U.S. Ambassador to Korea Stephen Bowsworth sign it on Thursday.

The bill is expected to spark disputes over the principle of equity because it includes clauses that require the Korean government to favorably consider the timing of custody transfers of ailing or pregnant suspects and stipulates that testimony or statements acquired in the absence of attorneys shall not be used in trials.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet also passed the revision bill of the Youth Protection Law, which maintains the legal age of majority at 20, but excludes from protection as juveniles those who turn 19 in same year in which they commit an offense, thus exempting them from being subject to crackdowns at entertainment spots deemed harmful to youths.

The Cabinet also approved the revision bill of the enforcement decree of the City Planning Law, which restricts the construction of amusement facilities like hotels in commercial regions adjacent to residence areas. The revised ordinance is expected to put the brakes on the uncontrolled construction of so-called ``love hotels¡¯¡¯ in new towns like Ilsan, in the northern suburbs of Seoul.

Boo Hyung-Kwon bookum90@donga.com