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Summary Trial for Illegal Protesters

Posted March. 04, 2008 03:00,   


The National Police Agency announced yesterday that it is pushing to put on a summary trial those who participate in illegal rallies and those who break basic social orders.

“It is urgent to cope with illegal demonstrations, but the police alone are not enough. We need to come up with new measures such as a summary trial system, in cooperation with the prosecution or the Supreme Court,” Police Commissioner General Eo Cheong-soo said in the local police heads’ meeting on Feb. 11.

The police now are preparing concrete standards that will define who and what kind of actions would be subject to summary justice.

A summary trial means a police chief can directly file for punishment of those who committed minor offenses (equivalent to a fine of or less than 200 thousand won or detention) without going through a formal trial. It leaves no criminal record, but violent protesters can be put in prison or a detention room in a police station for less than 30 days.

Jang Jeon-bae, head of the security division of the National Police Agency, said, “Some worry that the police rely on the legal system too much. Many people, however, agree that illegal demonstrators should be punished.”

The police will also take protesters who cross the police lines drawn in large-scale rallies to the police station.

These changes are in line with President Lee Myung-bak’s call to establish the order of law and to enforce it strictly and fairly.

However, Oh Chang-ik, director of Citizens` Solidarity for Human Rights, claimed, “We are worried about convenient law enforcement by the police.” He said police might be just trying to “hop on the bandwagon.”