Police chief must tell the truth

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Police chief must tell the truth

The police record stating that Baek Nam-gi, a 69-year-old farmer from South Jeolla, had been injured by a police water cannon during a violent clash between the police and activists rallying on Nov. 14 has become public. Lee Chul-sung, commissioner general for the National Policy Agency, said that the record had been destroyed during parliamentary questioning.

An online media outlet got its hands on the report that described in detail how a man seemingly in his 70s had hit his head during the rally and was sent to the hospital by ambulance. The police report had a record of his fall after being hit by a water cannon, being transported to Seoul National University hospital, and treated while in critical condition.

The police kept records on the developments at rallies and demonstrations. Previously police said that it did not make timely updates on the rally. But when the police came under attack by an opposition lawmaker, the agency came up with a report that did not have a breakdown of the events. The police chief added that flash reports are not stored as it is common to discard the information after reading.

But the police are now accused of lying and trying to cover up sensitive issues with the revelation of the detailed reports. Opposition lawmakers charge the police of having committed a serious crime of deceiving the people. The police chief would be charged of lying under oath if he knew of the existence of the reports. The police must explain why its chief testified differently.

The police have worsened the controversy. It did not apologize for Baek being in critical state for 317 days. It is largely at fault for the conflict with family members over conducting an autopsy. Police must come forward and commit themselves to tell the truth about the death of the farmer.

JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 20, Page 34
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