Police request indictment for four trespassers

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Police request indictment for four trespassers

Police on Friday requested the prosecution to indict four members of a progressive student group in Korea for trespassing and illegally rallying at the home of U.S. Ambassador to Korea Harry Harris last week.

A total of 17 members of the liberal student group, whose name loosely translates as the Korean Progressive University Student Union, broke into the residence, known as Habib House, in central Seoul, using two ladders, on Oct. 18.

They held an hour-long sit-in at the residence, in which the students waved banners calling for Harris and U.S. troops to leave the peninsula. They were protesting Washington’s alleged demand that Korea pay around 6 trillion won ($5 billion) for the stationing of approximately 28,500 U.S. troops on the peninsula.

Harris was not present in the compound at the time, having attended a diplomatic ceremony at the Blue House at the invitation of President Moon Jae-in.

All 17 have been arrested. Two additional members who tried to break in but were unsuccessful were also arrested.

Police have handed over to the prosecution their investigations on four of the members, and said they will be continuing their investigations into the rest of the group.

In Korea, the prosecution has the power to open and end investigations, order the police to investigate a case and indict a suspect. Police do not have the power to indict.

Police raided the office of Peace Ium, a nongovernmental organization on unification based in eastern Seoul, on Tuesday. The office is used by a member of the Korean Progressive University Student Union.

According to ruling Democratic Party Rep. Kim Byung-gwan Thursday, Harris expressed some disappointment over the fact that no one from the Korean government apologized for the fact that two staff members of the embassy were injured in the process to stop the break-in on Oct. 18.

“The ambassador said that two staff members were injured and yet no one from the Korean government said anything about this,” Kim said during a parliamentary audit on Thursday. “He conveyed to me his slight disappointment.”

BY ESTHER CHUNG, HAN YOUNG-IK [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]
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