[EDITORIALS]Truth panel did its job wellThe Presidential Truth Commission on Suspicious Deaths, which was established to clarify the causes of deaths resulting from improper exercise of power by the authoritarian regime, concludes its operation today. We evaluate the commission highly for its remarkable success in less than two years. We regret, however, that limited time and investigative authority kept it from concluding its investigations.
The commission has convened almost every day in order to conclude as many cases as possible. Of 83 cases submitted, it has ruled that 11 were suspicious deaths; 16 were impossible to investigate; 25 were dismissed, and one was withdrawn by the complainant Saturday night. The remaining 30 cases will be reviewed today, but it is likely that many will remain unresolved since time has run out. After Monday the commission will stop investigation and review of the cases. It will make reports to the president and publish a white paper on its activities by next March.
The commission has exposed government fabrications, cover-ups and intervention in such cases as: Professor Tsche Jong-kil of Seoul National University, who died when investigated by the Korean Central Intelligence Agency; Kim Jun-bae, a leading member of the Federation of All-Korean University Students; Park Yeong-du, a prisoner at Cheongsong Prison; Han Hi-cheol, a student activist conscripted by the army; and Private Huh Won-geun, who was reported to have committed suicide. We find the results remarkable considering the difficult situation in which government agencies, such as the army, police and intelligence service, refused to cooperate. The cases classed as impossible to investigate for such reasons will be hidden in history forever.
The commission's position is that even if the law is revised to give it more time, an extension without more investigative power would be meaningless. Politicians are not eager to support the commission. Voices oppose strengthening its investigative authority. It is difficult to expect revision of the law. The commission has shown a way of clarifying the cause of suspicious deaths and reinstating the honor of the deceased. Clearing past wrongs and rectifying history is a job left to every one of us.