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True justice must be immune to statute of limitations

Posted September. 20, 2019 08:19,   

Updated September. 20, 2019 08:28


A prime suspect to the “Hwaseong serial murders” has been identified after 33 years. After a prolonged period of dogged investigations, the police discovered that the DNA found in the belongings of victims in three cases matched that of a prisoner currently serving a life sentence. The police are running DNA tests on the articles left by the rest of the victims.

Since the first murder took place in September 1986, as many as 10 murder cases followed over four years and seven months, but the police failed to find the killer except for a copycat surnamed Yoon, who killed a girl surnamed Park in September 1988. Annually, a whopping 2.05 million people were mobilized for search and investigation, and the murder remained unresolved for a long time in a barren effort to examine some 21,000 potential suspects. It was the tenacity of the police and the advancement of forensic technology that helped crack the long-standing cold case. The statute of limitations ran out, and the charge is not convicted, but it will certainly offer a sense of closure to the deceased and their families.

There are a number of unsolved cases in South Korea. The number of cold cases handled by each local police agency hovered above 260. As to the “Frog Boys” case, a kidnapping in Daegu where a group of five boys disappeared in 1991, and in 2002, their remains were found in 11 years, but the kidnappers are still at large. The kidnapping and murder case of Lee Hyung-ho in January 1991, and the case on Kim Tae-wan, a six-year-old boy vitriolized to death in May 1991, have yet to be resolved.

In May 2012, the NYPD announced that Pedro Hernandez, who lured and murdered a six-year-old boy named Etan Patz who went missing on May 25, 1979, was arrested after 33 years. The case touched the heart of so many Americans as to designate the day of Etan’s disappearance as National Missing Children’s Day in the United States, but the search effort failed to make much progress. Thanks to the report from a resident who caught a clue from the killer’s passing complaints, the police were able to collar the suspect.

Being victimized is one thing, and being kept in the dark as to who killed their beloved ones is an agony beyond one’s head that the families left behind have to endure. In 2011, Woo Jong-woo, the representative of bereaved families of the Frog Boys, offered a reward worth 50 million won in exchange for a confession of the exact motive of the murder during his campaign to urge scrapping the statute of limitations on inhuman crimes. The case of Kim Tae-wan served as a turning point for the abolition of statute of limitations of murder cases, but ironically, the revision didn’t apply to the case as it was 15 days overdue. There is no such a thing as perfect crime. Even if the suspect cannot be summoned to trial for the statute of limitations, we must chase and find them at any cost and try them in the court of truth.