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No Progress in Police Investigation into Students Group

Posted May. 23, 2003 22:16,   


Police investigation into Hanchongryon, a federation of college student bodies, is making no progress. The police are apparently confused about which direction to take.

The police initially called for 41 students involved in the controversial demonstration, which ended up blocking the president`s passage to the Gwangju National Cemetery on May 18, to cooperate in police investigation, but only one has showed up so far. This indicates that most of the students are taking a wait-and-see approach to the investigation.

The little progress came as Chong Wae Dae softened its hard stance and turned to leniency. High-ranking officials at the police agency also are no longer keen to conduct the investigation.

President Roh Moo-hyun said at a meeting on May 19, one day after the incident at the Gwangju National Cemetery, “Those insulting and attacking others for disagreement will not be tolerated under the law,” adding “The law must be strictly applied to those involved.”

The hard stance, however, took a sharp turn after 5 officials of the May 18 Anniversary Committee visited Chong Wae Dae.

When they asked the president to exercise leniency, the president told top presidential aide Yoo In-tae who was at the scene to `take a flexible approach on the issue`.

“After looking into the circumstance at that time, we concluded that the violent protest was accidental rather than premeditated,” Yoo later said. “The police must consider seeking some leniency toward leaders of the students organization.”

The police, which have even set up the Special Investigation Headquarters of 120 staff members, have sent summons to 41 people out of 117 who were identified by the police to have taken a major role for the delay.

However, so far only one of them has so far voluntarily attended to the police for the investigation and the rest of them are disobeying summons.

“The court of justice has dismissed arrest warrants for two senior members of the Korea Association of College Students and the atmosphere of Chongwadae is to forgive them rather than punish them. So, it became very hard for the police to investigate the case,” a police official said.

In addition, there are concerns that the investigation may end without any significant results saying there is still no witness found on the President Rho`s wreath damage case which was placed in the celebration hall.

The Regional Police Headquarters of South Jeolla Province reapplied for the arrest warrants for the Chairman of the Korea Association of College Students Jang Jae-ook(23, President of Yonsei University Students Association) and the Chairman of the Korea Association of College Students in South Jeolla Province Yoon Young-il(25, President of Chonnam University Students Association) and got the warrants from the court.

The police is planning to apply for arrest warrants if the 41 summoned people do not turn up to the police, but it is not yet sure such a measure will be carried out. The people who were summoned but did not turn up are 20 students belonging to the Korea Association of College Students, 2 workers of the Daewoo Carrier and 2 committee members of the Anti U.S. Army formed after two middle school girls were killed by an armed vehicle of the U.S. army.