Better late than neverYesterday a retrial acquitted eight people who were wrongfully convicted of high treason. Their alleged crime was to reestablish the People’s Revolutionary Party.
The acquittal comes 32 years after all eight were executed.
The victims never had the chance to refute the charges against them. Finally admitting to its error, the court said that confessions obtained for the original trial were the fruit of coercion and torture.
Although the acquittals are belated, the truth has finally prevailed. The deceased can now reclaim their honor and rest in peace.
The incident was a well-known case of “judicial murder” carried out by a court controlled by political forces in Korea’s developmental dark days of dictatorship.
It was the most embarrassing moment of the nation’s history. The executions came only 18 hours after the Supreme Court rejected appeals on the victims’ behalfs.
Depriving them any chance of retrial was a savagery unimaginable in a civilized nation.
The victims were not even given a last opportunity to pray before the execution. After the execution, the International Lawyers Association called the day “a dark day in judicial history.”
Not only the victims, but also their families have gone through agony, hardship and unreasonable treatment.
That they have had to suffer in this way is deplorable.
For the past three decades, they probably lived their lives labeled as “families of red communists.”
One victim’s family member said, “I have cut off all contact with friends because I worried that I would bring them harm. I lived by barely breathing.”
This statement shows the ugly side of this crime, committed by national bodies like the Korea Central Intelligence Agency, the prosecution and the court.
The acquittals are not enough. Those who participated in this crime, whether the decision was voluntary or not, must confess and repent for their sins.
The victims’ families deserve, of course, the government’s apology and compensation.
Similar retrials for others convicted of treason or espionage will likely follow.
The court must carefully examine each case that comes its way.
This time, the judiciary admitted to its wrongdoing.
Hopefully this will restore confidence in a court system that has been tainted recently by corruption in the legal community.