Retaliation against victims increases

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Retaliation against victims increases

Violent retaliations against witnesses of crimes and even their victims are up, and prosecutors vowed to do something about it.

The number of retaliatory crimes shot up to 243 last year from 132 the previous year, an 84 percent increase, the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office announced.

The office said it would try harder to ensure the safety of witnesses or victims who report crimes and also increased the punishment to a mandatory court sentence of at least one year in prison.

“Retaliatory crimes are grave, illegal acts that threaten to undermine the criminal justice system,” said Shim Jae-chul, director of the crimes victims’ rights’ division at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office.

“We will deploy whatever measures necessary to ensure the personal safety of victims and witnesses.”

About 70 percent of the retaliatory crimes last year took place during the early stages of a crime investigation, such as police questioning or when suspects were released on bail, while 9.4 percent occurred following a court ruling, mostly when criminals receives suspended sentences.

The prosecution said it would provide emergency alarm devices to victims, witnesses and informants during the initial stages of investigations in case suspects try to hurt them, so they can immediately report any dangerous situations to authorities.

The prosecutors also said they would shoulder the costs of a victim moving to a new home and provide “safe houses” in some cases.

Last year, the prosecution provided 861 people with emergency pagers and subsidized 158 million won ($141,884) of relocation costs for people scared of retaliation.

“There are many cases in which victims are exposed to such threats but can’t afford to move to another place. We will actively give them help when we receive assistance requests from them,” said an official.

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