[EDITORIALS]Inhumane rightsA murder suspect died while he was being interrogated by investigators at the homicide division of the Seoul District Public Prosecutors Office. The revelation that the suspect was beaten by prosecution investigators has sparked a controversy. The investigators admit the beating but maintain that it had nothing to do with the suspect's death. An ongoing autopsy of the criminal suspect will determine the cause of his death.
Another suspect arrested for the same murder claimed that he had also been tortured, with his hands cuffed, by investigators, who he said stomped on his thighs and crotch. Frightened by screams from the next room, he said he made a confession because his investigators ordered him to. A probe by the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office has found that two prosecution investigators and one policeman struck the suspect before he died.
It is a national disgrace that law-enforcement officers reportedly beat a criminal suspect to death under the Kim Dae-jung administration, whose pet phrase echoes protecting basic human rights. Have all the government efforts to improve human rights been mere lip service? In a country ruled by a president who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his dedication to the advancement of human rights, how can such an unfortunate incident take place?
Torture is an anti-humanistic crime banned by the constitution. It is violence that no good cause can justify. The prosecutors office has the power and responsibility to monitor torture by other state agencies. The office's use of coercive interrogation is inexcusable.
Prosecutors must get to the bottom of the truth about the suspect's death and make their findings public. If the interrogators are found responsible for the death, prosecutors must seek criminal charges against them as a warning to others. At the same time, law-enforcement agencies should also take measures to ensure scientific and reasonable investigation of criminal cases. A felony investigation team that is soft on criminals is the last thing that the public want to have.