Woman wins suit over imprisonment on spy charges

2010-03-30 12:59

A court recently ordered the government to pay 6.8 billion won in damages to a woman falsely imprisoned for more than 20 years on charges of helping a North Korean spy.
The Seoul Central District Court ruled in favor of Bae Gyeong-ok, a niece of Lee Soo-geun, a North Korean who defected to the South and was executed in 1969 for espionage activities.
Bae was charged for allegedly helping his secret intelligence missions by forging passports and sending messages to the North. She was handed down a life sentence and served 20 years and 10 months from 1969 to 1989. She was cleared of the charges in 2007.
The district court ruled the government must pay 2.25 billion won ($1.9 million) in damages plus interest, the sum exceeding 6.8 billion won.
"Intelligence officials forced Bae into making a false confession and denied her right to remain silent or have a lawyer present," the court said in the ruling.
"The state is thus responsible for such an illicit process and the resulting jail term."
Bae filed for a retrial in 2007 and was exonerated from most of her charges and awarded 1 billion won from the government as criminal compensation. She and other family members filed a suit against the government for an extra 5.8 billion won in damages.
The court denied the state the statute of limitations as the applicant could file her objection only after the court ruling.

By Bae Hyun-jung
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