Court cuts awards to victims of 1975 purge

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Court cuts awards to victims of 1975 purge

Compensation for families of a group of pro-democracy activists who were falsely convicted of violating the anti-communist security law and executed in the mid-1970s has been sharply reduced by an appellate court, officials said yesterday.

In 1975, 25 anti-government demonstrators were indicted, including eight who were executed, for trying to rebuild a disbanded pro-communist group called “Inhyeokdang,” in violation of the anti-communist National Security Law.

Almost three decades later, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a special committee established in 2005 to investigate past human rights abuses, ruled that they had been tortured into making false confessions.

A group of some 100 family members of the victims filed a compensation suit against the state for wrongful convictions after 17 victims were being acquitted of the trumped-up charges in a 2007 retrial.

The Seoul High Court has ruled in favor of the plaintiffs but ordered the state to only pay a total of 1.41 billion won ($1.3 million) in compensation, which is less than half of the 3.41 billion won imposed by a lower court, officials said.

“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission revealed the truth that the case had been fabricated due to the torture and the court cleared the victims of the charges through a retrial,” Judge Chang Seok-jo said in a ruling.

“[I] took into consideration the fact that it was a secondary suit filed by relatives as losses suffered by children and parents of the victims were sufficiently compensated in 2006-2007 rulings,” Chang added.

A Seoul court previously ordered the government to pay more than 3 billion won in compensation to close relatives of the victims, the largest ever imposed for a wrongful conviction and the loss of a victim’s life.

In September, the ruling Saenuri Party’s presidential hopeful Park Geun-hye, the daughter of late President Park Chung Hee, came under criticism after saying that there were “two verdicts” for the case.


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