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Merchants Sue Protesters for Damage

Posted July. 18, 2008 08:07,   


Merchants running businesses nearby Gwanghwamun, the venue of months-long candlelight vigils, filed a damage suit worth 1.7 billion won at the Seoul Central District Court yesterday.

However, none of the 115 merchants appeared at the court. Instead, a group named the "Special Committee to Help Sound Protest Culture Settle and Provide Legal Support for Innocent Victims of Candlelight Protests" lodged the complaint on behalf of them.

Inha University professor Lee Jae-gyo, who leads the committee, said, “Stores of some merchants, who participated in a protest against the candlelight vigils, were attacked. Since they are worried that they might be exposed to more attacks, we are here to represent the merchants.”

Lee said, “These merchants have tolerated the damage resulting from legal protests. However, they think they cannot accept the damage resulting from illegal protests any longer. They have a profound distrust of the government and anger against public power, which has failed to play a due role.”

The merchants filed the suit against eight defendants, including three organizations (the People`s Council for Countermeasures against Mad Cow Disease, the People`s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, and Advanced Solidarity of Korea) and Park Won-seok of the first group. The merchants also included the government, saying that it backed down on its responsibility to protect the people’s fortune and the freedom of operation.

Each merchant demands 15 million won -- 5 million won in operating losses and 10 million won in compensation to make up for any potential damage. As a result, the sum of the damage suit amounts to 1.73 billion won. Each merchant paid 200,000 won to pay for the lawsuit.

Lee Heon of the Lawyers Living with Citizens said, “Since the cost of the lawsuit is high and we received applications for only two days, not many merchants are participating in the suit. Merchants with stores in Hyoja-dong and Cheongjin-dong and commuters to and from Gwanghwamun, who have also suffered from the protests, will participate in upcoming lawsuits.”