Court orders state to pay for ID leak of rape victims

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Court orders state to pay for ID leak of rape victims

The nation’s highest court ordered the state to compensate victims of a high profile 2004 gang rape case for violating their human rights and leaking their identities to the media.

Upholding a lower court ruling, the Supreme Court yesterday ruled in favor of two sisters and their mother. The sisters were victims of a notorious rape case in Milyang, South Gyeongsang Province. Ulsan police arrested 41 high school students for brutally raping the girls, then in middle school, over 11 months. Investigation began after the victims’ aunt alerted local police.

The victims criticized the police for insulting them during the investigation.

“You have ruined the reputation of Milyang,” one of the police officers stationed at the Ulsan Southern District Police Precinct allegedly told the victims.

Police also leaked documents to the media that contained enough information to identify the victims. The victims and their mother sought 110 million won ($105,942) in damages for “extreme emotional suffering.”

Although they could have viewed the 41 suspects through a one-way mirror, police forced the victims to directly face the suspects in a line-up.

“By making the victims identify their attackers in an open area, the police failed to protect the rights of the victims and caused them to suffer humiliation,” the Supreme Court said yesterday in the ruling. “Such an act can never be justified even with the stated claim by the police that they did so to expedite the probe.”

Initially a district court ruled only that police improperly leaked the victims’ identities and set compensation at 15 million won in total. An appeals court said the state was responsible for broader rights violation by forcing the minors to identify their attackers face to face.

Upholding that ruling, the Supreme Court said the state must pay each sister 30 million won and their mother 10 million won.

The court said another factor in its ruling were comments made by a police officer that the girls had hurt Milyang’s reputation.

By Ser Myo-ja Staff Reporter []
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