Police: Letters could be fakes

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Police: Letters could be fakes


An official from the Gyeonggi Police Agency shows cut-out parts on an envelope that a 31-year-old man argues he had received from actress Jang Ja-yeon, who hung herself in 2009. [YONHAP]

The Gyeonggi Police Agency announced yesterday that they found evidence that 24 letters that a prisoner claims he received from actress Jang Ja-yeon, who hung herself in 2009, could have been fabricated.

The prisoner, surnamed Jeon, said he and Jang, who had been childhood friends, had exchanged letters since 2003. The letters indicated that Jang was forced to provide drinks and sex for 31 VIPs, describing them as “devils.” In the letters, the names and occupations of the alleged abusers were listed; most of them were high-profile businessmen and officials.

Police said they will have handwriting analysts inspect the letters, looking for such habits of the writer as how much pressure she used in forming words. The analysis will be completed by early next week, police said.

Jeon contacted an entertainment newspaper in 2009 saying he had letters from Jang indicating she was suffering from having to provide sexual services to the VIPs. The newspaper refused to report it, because police at the time said Jeon was undergoing therapy and his words were not reliable.

Police yesterday said they remain skeptical of Jeon. “No one close to Jang mentioned Jeon in their discussions with us. We are still suspicious whether Jeon was really close to Jang.”

Cho Hyun-oh, commissioner of the National Police Agency, said yesterday he will order a new investigation of Jang’s death if the letters are confirmed to have been written by Jang.

Police confiscated the 24 handwritten letters, about 20 envelopes, 70 newspaper clippings and other items from Jeon’s prison cell and interviewed him Wednesday for six hours. Jeon is in prison for an unrelated crime.

Police at a press conference yesterday said that the postmark on one of the confiscated envelopes was cut out. “We guess the intention of cutting it off is to hide where the letter came from,” a police official said.

Police also said they had investigated all of Jeon’s 2,439 letters while in prison and found Jang’s real name, Jang Ja-yeon, and her nicknames such as snow flower, and ggamdungi, which means “blacky,” on the records of letters Jeon received.

“Because of the civil rights of prisoners, we aren’t allowed to open letters and only recorded the names of sender and receiver,” a police official said.

Police said all 24 letters have been confirmed to be originals; 230 pages had been photocopied and presented during a trial in 2009 over defamation and embezzlement charges related to agents of Jang. The court didn’t take the photocopies as evidence.

As for the newspaper clippings, police said sentences related to Jang were highlighted. There also were handwritten comments such as “I will not let your death be in vain.”

Police said they will not inspect the fingerprints on the letters, because they would have to dip the letters into liquid chemicals, which would blur the words.

By Kim Hee-jin, Yu Gil-yong [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

Related Korean Article[중앙일보]

경찰 “장자연 편지, 발신지 조작 흔적”

경찰이 고 장자연씨의 지인이라고 주장하는 전모(31·수감 중)씨에게서 압수한 편지봉투 사본에서 발신지를 숨기기 위해 조작을 한 흔적을 찾았다고 10일 발표했다. 경찰은 그러나 전씨의 수감실에서 압수한 편지 원본이 위조됐는지는 필적감정 결과가 나와야 알 수 있다고 밝혔다.

경기지방경찰청은 이날 브리핑을 하고 조작을 한 흔적은 압수한 항공우편봉투 복사본에서 발견됐다고 설명했다. A4용지 2장에 복사한 동일한 봉투 사본 중 3군데 찍힌 우체국 소인에는 ‘2008.9.17’이란 날짜만 있다. 바로 밑에 발신지 우체국명이 기재되는 곳은 가로 1.5㎝, 세로 1㎝ 정도 크기의 직사각형 모양으로 오려져 있었다. 이 때문에 소인을 찍은 우체국이 어디인지 확인할 수 없다. 경찰은 전씨가 우체국 소인 일부를 오려낸 사본으로 또 다른 복사본 여러 장을 만든 것으로 보고 있다.

경기경찰청 김갑식 형사과장은 “발신지를 숨기려고 사본을 조작(훼손)한 것으로 보이지만 이것만으론 장씨가 썼다는 편지를 위조했다고 단정할 수 있는 증거는 아니다”고 말했다.

경찰은 또 교도소 전산망에 남아 있는 전씨의 우편물 수·발신기록을 분석했지만 장씨와 편지를 주고받은 기록이 없었다고 밝혔다. 경찰이 분석한 것은 2003년 11월부터 이달 7일까지 교도소 안에서 전씨가 주고받은 우편물에 대한 것을 정리한 전산기록이다.

전씨는 이 기간 동안 2439건의 우편물을 받았다. 장씨가 쓴 것으로 알려진 편지 봉투 발신인란에는 ‘장자연’ ‘장설화’ ‘눈꽃’ ‘깜둥이’ 등 본명과 별명이 섞여 있다. 경찰 측은 “교도소에서 수·발신 상황을 전부 기재하지 않는 걸 감안해도 두 사람이 편지를 주고받은 기록이 전혀 없다는 건 석연치 않다”고 말했다.

국립과학수사연구소의 필적감정 결과는 이르면 이번 주말이나 다음 주 초쯤 나올 예정이다.

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