A former student activist was acquitted in a retrial Thursday more than 20 years after he was imprisoned for aiding and abetting the suicide of a fellow activist and forging his will.
In 1992, Kang Ki-hoon was convicted of ghostwriting the will of Kim Ki-sul and persuading him to set himself on fire and jump to his death from a building at Seoul’s Sogang University in protest against the military-backed government.
In the retrial, the Seoul High Court delivered a not-guilty verdict for Kang, citing the lack of credibility of forensic evidence.
“The result by the National Forensic Service in 1991 lacks credibility and there is not enough evidence to prove that Kang wrote Kim’s suicide note,” Judge Kwon Ki-hoon said in his ruling.
Often called the Korean version of France’s “Dreyfus affair,” the self-immolation by Kim in May 1991 came amid nationwide protests demanding the resignation of then President Roh Tae-woo.
The incident played a decisive role in worsening the public opinion about student radicals at the time.
After serving three years in prison, Kang sought a retrial, claiming to be innocent and that the charges were trumped up.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a special committee established in 2005 to reinvestigate past atrocities, ruled in late 2007 that the prosecutors pinned false charges against Kang and demanded a retrial. (Yonhap)