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[Op-Ed] Lax Police Work

Posted February. 24, 2009 04:47,   


Self-confessed serial killer Kang Ho-sun faces new charges of arson and murder along with his confession of killing seven women. Prosecutors concluded that he killed his fourth wife and her mother by setting their house on fire in October 2005 to collect the insurance money. Since the new charges are not supported by Kang’s confession or direct evidence, heated discussion could ensue over what really happened in the trial.

The case against him for arson is strong according to new evidence announced by prosecutors, who confirmed that the fire was caused by a flammable substance judging by the traces of the fire in the house. The fire was also found to have immediately spread from the floor to the ceiling. Investigators said a plastic container found at the scene on the day of the fire went missing three days later, and that Kang snuck back into the house the next day. Based on the new findings, prosecutors challenged the result of a police investigation on the fire three years ago that concluded the fire was caused by a mosquito coil. Specifically, prosecutors said there was no need for a mosquito coil in a chilly living room since the thermometer read 3.7 degrees Celsius on the day of the fire.

Kang suddenly registered his marriage with his fourth wife five days before the fire and signed up for two insurance programs immediately before the incident. This strengthens the case against him. Prosecutors also secured testimony from neighbors that they heard an explosion on the day of the fire, which further supports the claim that a flammable substance was the cause. Arresting Kang from a surveillance camera reading might be an accomplishment of scientific investigation by police, but it is appalling to see how lax the investigation was on a murder case possibly motivated by money. Prosecutors also found traces of the DNA of two unidentified women on a hoe Kang used to kill his victims, which were also undiscovered by police.

If a thorough police investigation had been conducted on the fire, it could have prevented Kang from killing again. Eleven months after the fire, he killed another victim in September 2006. Police must make sure that no crime goes undiscovered to deter potential criminals. Perhaps someone might be roaming the streets now looking for a target while laughing at the police’s inability to catch them. The duty of police is to vigorously hunt for criminals who threaten the lives and safety of the people until they are caught.

Editorial Writer Kwon Sun-taek (maypole@donga.com)