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New Trial Could Recategorize `Pro-democracy Events`

Posted March. 02, 2009 23:52,   


In 1989, seven police officers were killed while trying to suppress student demonstrations. Those found guilty of the officers’ deaths in the “Dongeui University case” were later recognized as pro-democracy activists, but a new trial could change that.

The ruling Grand National Party’s Chun Yu-ok said yesterday that she will suggest a revised Act on the Honor Restoration and Compensation for Those Related to the Democratization Movement to the National Assembly next week.

The Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations asked the Commission for Democratization Movement Activists` Honor Restoration and Compensation to determine if certain controversial cases could be judged democratization movements. If the revised bill is passed, it will be used to determine if such decisions were right.

Chun told The Dong-A Ilbo, “Improper activities related to entrance exams invited the so-called Dongeui University case. Violent students threw Molotov cocktails and seven innocent police officers were sacrificed. Nevertheless, the Commission for Democratization Movement Activists` Honor Restoration and Compensation had 46 violent protesters including their leaders labeled pro-democracy activists.”

“I will definitely have the case reexamined to eradicate violence and correct Korea’s history distortions by left-wingers.”

The revised bill said, ‘When certain critical factors appear, a retrial can be held only once after deliberation is over. The retrial can be held within 10 years.” In other words, the revised bill suggests that a retrial can be held.

On the other hand, existing law says a retrial is possible only after an objection is filed within 30 days after the commission’s decision or the commission concludes that a retrial should be held within 30 days. Thus a retrial cannot be held without legal changes.

When the commission concluded that the Dongeui University case was a democratization movement in 2002, the families of the seven police officers submitted a protest to the Constitutional Court. The court dismissed their appeal, however, saying, “Bereaved family members are not a concerned party.”

If the revised bill is passed, the commission can hold a retrial of all cases recognizing democratization movements over the past 10 years.

Chun is considering whether to hold a retrial for other cases, but will face heavy resistance since organizations related to the democratization movement and opposition parties are expected to oppose the bill.