Groups fined for violent 2007 rally

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Groups fined for violent 2007 rally

Seven labor and civic organizations whose members beat up police officers during a candlelight vigil that turned into a violent anti-government protest in 2007 will have to pay the state 40 million won ($35,628), a local court ruled yesterday.

Shin Sang-ryeol, the Seoul Central District Court judge who presided over the case, said the co-organizers of the rally, including the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, Korean Metal Workers’ Union, and Korea Alliance of Progressive Movements, failed to prevent protestors from using violence and disrupting traffic in areas around Seoul Plaza.

“Some of the leaders of the groups occupied roads and led the rally, and considering that the groups’ last rally turned violent, leaders should have predicted it could happen again and been alert to that,” Shin said in his ruling.

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and other six organizations sought permission from police in November 2007 to stage a protest against the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement and changes in labor laws, but their request was turned down.

The groups then petitioned the National Human Rights Commission for an emergency injunction allowing them to hold a rally. The commission dismissed the request.

On Nov. 11, more than 20,000 protesters rallied in Seodaemun, Sejongno, and Bosingak Pavilion in central Seoul.

When Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency officers tried to stop the protestors from disrupting traffic, the protestors beat up 15 riot police officers and destroyed two police buses and other police equipment.

The state sued the seven organizations for 56 million won for the lost equipment and hospital costs for the injured riot police.

The groups argued that police were to blame for the violence because if they hadn’t banned the rally in the first place, the vigil would have been peaceful.

The court dismissed the argument.

By Kim Mi-ju, Choe Sun-uk []
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