FTA objector held for kicking a cop at protest

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FTA objector held for kicking a cop at protest

The Seoul Southern District Court yesterday issued a detention warrant against a protester who physically assaulted a policeman during an anti-Korea-U.S. FTA rally on Nov. 10.

The Yeongdeungpo Police Precinct in Seoul charged the alleged assailant, Kim Min-chul, 33, who is a regional director of the Democratic Labor Party, with an act of violence against a policeman during the illegal anti-FTA rally, at which 800 people gathered in front of the Korea Development Bank in Yeouido, western Seoul.

Judge Lee Jae-wuk said in a ruling to issue the warrant, “The court does not hold any political view regarding the FTA, but in this case, Kim showed excessive violence by throwing a cement brick, among other acts.” The judge said there was a risk of Kim fleeing, destroying evidence and a need to investigate his accomplices as reasons for the issuance of the warrant.

During the rally, Kim, with other protesters, headed from the bank towards the Grand National Party headquarters, which resulted in a clash between them and 4,000 police officers. Kim, with three others, allegedly kicked Officer Jeon Jin-uk, 32, of the Seoul Metropolitan Police several times and threw a cement brick toward policemen.

The police said it appears that Kim tried to get rid of evidence and flee after the incident.

On Wednesday, Kim was arrested in Jeonju, North Jeolla by police, who had been issued an arrest and search warrant. They searched Kim’s residence but failed to find the clothes Kim wore on the day of the rally, including a vest and sneakers.

The police said that Kim claimed that he left that evidence at work but afterwards said he “does not remember where he put it.”

Police said Kim changed his testimony numerous times.

“I had no intention of concealing evidence,” Kim said, according to police, “and even after the day [of the rally] went back and forth from home and work and carried on daily life.”

He said: “If I had plans to escape, I would have done so already.”

Regarding throwing a brick at the police, Kim said, “The police came forward and in defense [I] accidently threw [the brick].”

But the police claim that the distance between the police and Kim was 3 to 5 meters, and because they were stationary, there was no reason for Kim to feel endangered.

After graduating from college, Kim went to the United States to study English. Upon returning to Korea in 2009, he became a member of the Democratic Labor Party and is currently active as the director of the North Jeolla branch of the party.

According to police, Kim organized North Jeolla civic groups and 30 members of the party to come to Seoul on a bus for the anti-FTA rally Nov. 10.

Police said Kim has opposed the FTA with the U.S. from the beginning because it threatens the sovereignty of Korea.

By Lee Ji-sang [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]
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