Professors, lawyers add voices to SOFA protests

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Professors, lawyers add voices to SOFA protests

Protests over the acquittals of two American soldiers involved in the deaths of two South Korean teenaged girls continued yesterday. Academic groups sought a revision of the pact governing U.S. troops in Korea while demonstrations were staged in front of the Blue House and the U.S. Embassy in Seoul.

The Korean Professors Union, the Korean Professors Association for Democratic Society and five other academic groups held a joint news briefing where they demanded that the United States begin talks with the South Korean government as soon as possible to revise the Status of Forces Agreement, which they called "unfair." The groups demanded that the two soldiers acquitted in the case be retried by a South Korean court.

A U.S. armored vehicle ran over two local girls in June during an exercise in Yangju, Gyeonggi province. The driver and the vehicle commander were court-martialed last month; both were found not guilty of negligent homicide by U.S. military juries. Anti-U.S. protests have continued since the verdicts, growing fiercer day by day.

Belated reports revealed yesterday that three sixth-grade students wrote a letter in their own blood last week demanding that the acquittals be voided and jurisdiction in the case be handed over to South Korean authorities. The students reportedly wrote the letter Thursday and submitted it to a police station in Daegu.

The Pan National Committee, an alliance of civic groups which has been leading a number of protests, continued to stage rallies in front of the U.S. Embassy and the Blue House.

At a human rights conference organized by Lawyers for a Democratic Society, the attorneys' group stressed the necessity and urgency of revising the SOFA. "Revising the SOFA is an inevitability of our era," said a lawyer, Gwon Jeong-ho, at the event. "It is a way to promote equity and respect of sovereignty under international law."

by Kang Joo-an, Namkoong Wook

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