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Reconciliation Retrial Criteria Eased

Posted January. 20, 2006 04:53,   


The government and Uri Party decided on January 19 to loosen the restrictions on petitions for retrials of crimes against humanity committed by law enforcement authorities. Against this backdrop, they also agreed to recognize the results of an investigation by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as legitimate reasons for civil and criminal retrial petitions.

The government and the party held a meeting of the Joint Commission for Truth and Reconciliation in the National Assembly yesterday and decided to bring an enactment bill on the statute of limitations and retrials of national crimes against humanity before a special session of the Assembly in February.

If the bill is signed into law, illegal activities like torture, severe violence and fabrication of papers discovered by the commission will be included on the list of allowable retrial reasons.

As for crimes against humanity committed by the government whose limitation periods have not expired, they found that it had been difficult for the government to effectively exercise its prosecution rights from the time when the crimes were committed to the time of the resignation of government officials or executives who committed the crimes. Therefore, the statute of limitations on those crimes will be halted during this period, and fact-finding efforts and punishment will be carried out.

The crimes for which the statute of limitations will be halted include serious crimes that hurt human lives, such as homicide, injury, assault and battery, and deadly violence, which are all recognized by international law as crimes against humanity.

The government and the ruling Uri Party will also not extend the statute of limitations because extending the prescription period of cases whose statute of limitations is expired is usually regarded as unconstitutional.

Considering that homicide crimes have a statute of limitations of 15 years under criminal litigation law, crimes committed by the government before 1991 will not be targeted for retroactive punishment, as statute of limitations on cases that took place after 1991 can be halted.

In the case of compensation for civil cases, however, even after their prescription period of 10 years expires, the government will give up its advantage resulting from extinctive prescriptions and compensate victims if the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the court confirm that law enforcement authorities conducted organized illegal activities.

That being the case, victims of civil and criminal cases whose limitation periods have expired, such as the death of professor Choi Jong-gil, the second-degree murder in the Samchung Training Center, and the false espionage charges against Susie Kim will be compensated.

The government and the ruling party will put forward the bill for the special act on the government’s resignation of its advantage resulting from extinctive prescription before the special session of the National Assembly in February.

As for massacres of civilians before or after the Korean War, they reconfirmed their current principle of not compensating victims individually but reviewing the possibility of memorial projects or the provision of medical grant aid.

Jung-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com