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Think tank unveils N. Korean court ruling ordering public execution

A South Korean state-run think tank on Thursday unveiled a North Korean court ruling sentencing a man to public execution, suggesting the totalitarian regime uses the punishment as part of its legal system.

The Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU) said it included images of the document in a 20-minute-long DVD it recently produced to cover North Korea's serious human rights abuses. The communist regime has long been accused of public executions, torture, and holding hundreds of thousands of political prisoners.

Pyongyang denies the accusations, calling them a U.S.-led attempt to topple its regime.

The DVD, titled "No Tears," was produced based on the eyewitness accounts of North Korean defectors. More than 21,000 North Koreans have fled poverty and repression in their homeland to settle in the South since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

In the ruling, dated September 2010, North Korea's top court sentenced a 40-year-old man to public execution on charges of stealing six cows, or deliberate damage to national wealth.

It is the first time such a document has been released in South Korea, according to KINU. The institute said it has been difficult to find the legal grounds for public executions in North Korea's criminal code, but the ruling, which it obtained from a defector, shows the existence of legal procedures that include the punishment. KINU estimates that at least 60 public executions were carried out in the North last year. (Yonhap News)

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