A Seoul court handed down a ruling on Wednesday ordering the family of a victim acquitted after being imprisoned for campaigning against the military regime led by then-President Park Chung-hee to return part of its compensation from the government.
The late victim, Lee Jae-hyung, was sentenced to 20 years in jail in 1978 after being found guilty of plotting against the regime at the behest of the North Korean government. In 2007, his family won a retrial against the state and received about 1.7 billion won ($1.6 million) in compensation and 1.3 billion won in damages for the delay.
In the latest ruling, however, the court ordered four family members of Lee to return 1.38 billion won of the compensation, claiming that the damages for the delay should be recalculated.
Lee is among 25 victims who were indicted on charges of protesting against the Park Chung-hee regime, and plotting to overthrow the authoritarian government. Eight were sentenced to death, while 17 were put behind bars. Court records show that some of them were later acquitted in retrials.
Ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, a district court ordered the government to pay the victims and their families a total of 3 billion won in compensation in advance, calculating the damage starting from the government’s illegal arrest of the victims. But the top court in 2011 overturned the ruling, deciding that the damages would be calculated starting from when their appeals trial began Nov. 13, 2009.
With the ruling, the government filed 16 lawsuits against the victims’ families demanding that some of the already paid compensation, be returned calling it undue profits.
So far, the government has won 11 of the 16 lawsuits. If the top court rules in favor of the government in all the cases, the amount to be returned will total about 12.9 billion won.
By Suk Gee-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)