Truth panel confirms prosecution covered up police torture in 1980s

SEOUL, The truth committee under the Ministry of Justice confirmed Thursday the prosecution covered up the police torture of two pro-democracy activists in the 1980s, one of whom died in the process.

Park Jong-chul, a Seoul National University student, died during police interrogation in early 1987. Police and prosecutors at that time described his death as accidental. But the autopsy doctor's whistle-blowing and media reporting revealed that he was killed by water torture.

The revelation triggered a nationwide protest against the authoritarian Chun Doo-hwan government in June 1987. Chun subsequently bowed to public pressure and accepted the restoration of a direct presidential election.

The committee also confirmed the prosecution concealed the fact that in 1985 Kim Geun-tae, then a leading civic activist, was tortured by electricity and water. Kim later served as welfare minister and lawmaker and died in 2011.

"The prosecution condoned and abetted the police's torture investigation and abused its power in covering it up," the panel said.

It demanded the prosecution admit to its wrongdoing and make a formal apology.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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