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Korean Civil Case Retrial Rate Surges

Posted August. 02, 2006 03:01,   


Ms. Im, 63, was unable to hide her nervous feelings when she walked into the Daejeon District Court on June 30 this year. In December 1994, she was sentenced to prison for one and a half years after being convicted of a false accusation and an attempted deception in the same court.

She filed a suit against a real estate broker in 1992 when she was not granted the residential pass she’d paid for. But she was arrested on indictment on charges of a false accusation, and stayed in prison for nine months.

When she was released she filed a suit against the six people who had made false testimonies in the trial on her, and all of the six were convicted guilty in 2002. Based on this, the Daejeon District Court accepted her request for a retrial and held an open trial for final judgment. When the presiding judge declared Im not guilty, she let her tears flow down.

The number of cases where people request retrials being unable to accept the judgment, like Im, is steadily increasing every year. Experts point out that this is a proof showing that the distrust on the judicature is spreading caused by such events as the series of broker incidents in the legal circles.

According to the “records of request for retrials and the transactions” between January 2001 and May this year that this newspaper obtained from the Supreme Court, the number of retrials requested in civil cases increased by 100 over the last four years from 544 in 2001 and 576 in 2003, to 640 in 2005.

The number of retrials requested in criminal cases was 247 in 2001 and 423 in 2003, and slightly fell to 371 last year but is predicted to surpass 400 this year.

But the number of retrials approved is decreasing on the reverse. The Court accepted 231 requests in civil cases in 2001 but the number dropped to 133 last year. The situation was worse in the criminal cases, with the number of requests accepted dropping from 97 in 2003 to 42 in 2005.

Over the last five years, the judgment was reversed in 148 retrials on civil cases. In the criminal cases 178 people who were convicted guilty were found innocent after the retrials.

Han In-seob, a professor of Law at Seoul National University, says, “this is a sign that the people do not trust the judgment of the judicature. They should be more open-minded about retrials so as to relieve people from wrong sufferings.”