Funeral fracas lawmaker acquitted

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Funeral fracas lawmaker acquitted

Baek Won-woo, the Democratic Party lawmaker who shouted at President Lee Myung-bak during the funeral of former President Roh Moo-hyun, was declared innocent of disturbing the ceremony at a second trial yesterday, according to the Seoul Central District Court.

The court said it perceived Baek’s shouting as an expression of emotion, not as a deliberate disruption of the funeral.

“Although a funeral is a place to remember the deceased, people are not required to keep quiet,” the court said. “We regarded his shouting as an emotional expression of him cherishing the ex-president, not as a disturbance in the sense that he shouted a few words on the spot,” the court said yesterday.

“Considering Baek was controlled by security guards right after the fracas and he himself remained calm until the ceremony finished, we cannot say he interfered with the funeral,” it added.

The lawmaker, who served as a secretary at the Office of Civil Affairs for the Roh administration in 2003, demanded an apology from President Lee for Roh’s death as Lee offered flowers at the funeral ceremony on May 29, 2009. He shouted for two minutes saying, “How dare you offer incense [to Roh]!” and “You should apologize for his death!”

Roh committed suicide on May 23, 2009, just days after he was questioned by prosecutors over corruption allegations. Roh sympathizers said the investigation was a politically motivated action taken by the Lee administration.

After the verdict yesterday, Baek held a press conference with reporters.

“Honestly, I did not expect an acquittal [at the second trial],” Baek said at the press conference. “I hope the president understands my shouting was a reasonable action and I want him to console people who have been hurt by Roh’s death.”

Prosecutors accused Baek of disturbing the ceremony and a first trial found him guilty, ordering he pay a 1 million won ($885) fine.

By Kim Hee-jin []
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