Old lady charged in soft drink murders

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Old lady charged in soft drink murders

Prosecutors investigating the so-called poisoned soda case, in which two elderly women died and four were sickened after drinking soda laced with pesticide at a community hall, said Thursday it indicted an 82-year-old neighbor on murder and attempted murder charges.

Park is alleged to have mixed pesticide into a bottle of soft drink at the community hall in Sangju, North Gyeongsang, on July 14, with the intention of killing six of her neighbors. She is denying the charges.

The Sangju branch of Daegu District Prosecutors’ Office on Thursday said it will try the case based on their investigation.

Park is currently being detained at a prison in Gimcheon, North Gyeongsang.

“We believe Park committed multiple homicides because she had a fight a day before while playing a card game with the victims,” said Shin Yeong-sik, Sangju Branch chief. “Park is suspected to have brought 24 grams [0.84 ounces] of pesticide in a 100-milliliter [3.4-ounce] bottle and poured it into a soft drink bottle. The dose of pesticide could kill five 50-kilogram adults.”

The prosecution said one of the four injured women said she “had an argument with Park after Park cheated in a card game.”

Another neighbor said he witnessed the two arguing furiously.

Prosecutors said that the pesticide was detected on 21 items including Park’s clothes, cane and electric wheelchair.

Park also allegedly tried to conceal her involvement. On the day of the incident, when one of the victims was found unconscious in front of the community hall and taken to the hospital, Park came out of the hall and joked about the victim with some local kids. When police launched their investigation, images of Park talking on a phone with a smiling face were recorded by the police car’s recording device.

Also, when the village head tried to enter the community hall, where five other victims were lying unconscious, she closed all entrances to the hall and was standing in the hall with a smiling face, said the prosecution.

She told the ambulance crew that the poisonings were due to the soft drink before anyone suspected it.

The result of a lie detector showed that Park’s statement that she never put pesticide in the bottle was a lie.

Park and her attorney said that they will refute the prosecution’s charges at the trial.

BY KIM BONG-MOON, KIM YOUN-HO [kim.bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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