Former South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan on Monday made the first appearance at an appellate court in Gwangju after he was found guilty of defamation of late priest Cho Bi-oh in the first trial. It was his first visit to the Gwangju Court in nine months since the previous one was made last November. However, he left the courtroom 30 minutes after the start of the trial due to health issues.
Arriving in the Gwangju District Court at 12:43 p.m. on Monday, Chun was assisted by his security guards while walking into the courtroom right before the trial with his wife Lee Soon-ja accompanying him as a person in fiduciary relationship. He had a hard time listening to the presiding judge’s inquiries due to hearing issues while exhibiting lack of mobility. After he was only able to say “Chun Doo-hwan” at an identification step, his wife instead answered his date of birth, address and place of his family register. The former president dozed off after the identification questions were asked. Asked by the judge after a while if Chun has shortness of breath, the former first lady replied, “He skips meals and seems to feel tightness in the chest.” The judge adjourned the court for a while and finished it at 2:29 p.m. with the next trial scheduled on August 30.
Chun’s attorneys requested nine military commanders and helicopter pilots during the May 18 Gwangju Uprising as eyewitnesses and a revalidation process of the Jeonil Building in Gwangju with marks of bullets from helicopters on the surface. In response, the prosecution argued that not only state-run organizations but also the first trial concluded that Chun’s troops shot from helicopters. The court adopted a total of five witnesses - four helicopter pilots and former presidential aide Min Jung-ki who engaged in the publication of Chun’s memoir.
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