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Accidental Firing at Zaytun Unit Was Withheld

Posted April. 13, 2005 23:07,   


Last December, a day ahead of President Roh Moo-hyun’s visit to the Korean Zaytun Unit, an Iraqi security guard was killed by a South Korean soldier’s accidental gunfire.

On December 7, last year, corporal Hong (22), who was playing with his K-2 rifle, accidentally discharged it, injuring Bakhiyar (23) in the abdomen, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) on April 13. Bakhiyar, on a joint patrol with corporal Hong, was rushed to a nearby hospital, but died four days later.

After the accident, the South Korean military offered $10,000 in compensation to the victim’s family and has continued to provide $450 every month as a subsidy. The military also built a new residence for the family and recruited Bakhiyar’s wife a position as a search personnel stationed at the entrance of the unit’s camp.

A JCS official also said that Bakhiyar, before he died, asked for Hong not to be punished because it was an accident, and that Bakhiyar’s family as well sent a petition to the military asking not to punish him. Hong was returned to Korea and sentenced to serve a one year and six-month imprisonment at the first trial. Hong appealed to a higher court.

The official claimed that the news has been withheld because the whole unit focused on strengthening the security in preparation for the president’s visit the day after.

The JCS first stated that Hong accidentally discharged his rifle while checking his rifle’s security. However, as questioned by the reporters, the JSC changed its previous statement regarding the cause of the accident, encouraging the suspicion that the military might have tried to hide the exact cause of the accident.

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com