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Defoliant Damage Compensation Aborted

Posted May. 24, 2002 08:43,   


The litigation against defoliant producers in the United States demanding to compensate on soldiers suffered from defoliant has been defeated at last after three years of dispute

The 13th circuit of the civilian court (chief judge Kim Hee-Tae) of the Seoul District Court sentenced on May 23 that the plaintiff has little evidence for damage compensation of five trillion and 100 billion Won filed against Monsanto and Dow chemicals of the United States and submitted by defoliant side effect suffering patient, patient of quasi symptom of side effect and descendant thereof numbered seventeen thousand and two hundred people.

The court explained, `It is difficult not only to consider the Vietnam dispatched solders are exposed enough to catch diseases, but also clear evidence showing the cause and effect of the diseases to defoliant is lacking except in the case of chlorache`

The court added, `Even if the cause-and-effect relationship is established, the effective date of damage compensation cases (ten years after actual accident or three years after the date when the illegal activities are perceived) are already elapsed, which make the claim of plaintiffs hard to accept.`

Defense lawyer, representing plaintiffs in court litigation, has expressed his intention of filing an appeal saying, `Since the probabilities of the major ingredient of defoliant, dioxin to the diseases is already recognized, we cannot accept the court decision rejecting the cause-and-effect relationship.`

Plaintiffs have filed the lawsuit in September 1999 claiming, `We, as soldiers of Cheongyong (blue dragon), Maengho (brave tiger), and Baekma (white horse) military units, have performed our duty in Kwangnai and Quinon regions where 16 million gallons of defoliant are sprayed and have gotten diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetics and others due to the chemicals.`

In other hand, six hundred members of related associations in the nation including veterans association of defoliant side-effect soldiers in Vietnam War have gathered in the court and watched the court processes, but as the court deployed, with the support of the police, nine police squad numbered 1,000 policemen for an emergency, no particular disturbance has observed.

Jung-Eun Lee lightee@donga.com