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8 Solders Who Eyewitnessed Killing of Huh

Posted August. 22, 2002 22:19,   


Our paper reported on August 21 (A30 & A31) that in 1984, Huh Won-kun (private first class at that time) was actually shot to death by a noncommissioned officer, and that the killing was covered up as a suicide case. It is further suspected that organized cover-up efforts were made within the Army. Those solders who witnessed the homicide received a special holiday leave right after they were questioned by the military police.

Presidential Truth Commission on Suspicious Deaths (PTC) announced on August 22, “Right after the homicide, the military police of the Division conducted an investigation for 2 weeks. During the investigation, 8 eyewitness solders were questioned. After the investigation was over, these solders were allowed to take 3-4 days’ holiday.”

It has also transpired by the PTC that the MP officers tortured the solders during the questioning and forced the solders to endorse an affidavit in which each of them swore ‘I will not tell anything regarding this case.’” Thus, the PTC is investigating into the incident.

The PTC has also found out that the Division and Regiment Commands did not make an issue of the change of the time at which the homicide reportedly took place. Originally, it was reported that Huh committed suicide in the morning. The time was changed to 1:20 p.m. during the MP’s investigation.

On the day of the accident, some time between 2-4 a.m. when Huh was already dead, a meeting was held with Battalion officers participated. In that meeting, it was decided to cover up the case as a suicide. Then, at around 7 a.m., it was reported as a suicide case and the report was relayed to the Division in that morning.

Accordingly, the PTC believes that the officers of the Regiment and the Division knowingly hid the truth, considering that the Regiment and the Division kept silence on the recording of the accident time as happened in the afternoon by the military police although the unit officers knew that the case took place early in the morning.

The PTC also suspects that the military prosecutors were forced to indict the head of the Company only for torture charges that allegedly led to Huh’s suicide. The head was originally charged with inflicting tortures on Huh. But, later, some military prosecutors argued that it was not just a suicide case. Nonetheless, the official charge involved only the torturing.

The PTC does not exclude the possibility that Huh was not killed by the first shot. It thinks that he might have survived the first bullet. Thus, it is concentrating its efforts to find out why it was ordered to shoot two more rounds to Huh.

Hyo-Lim Son aryssong@donga.com