North Koreans sentenced to death for Burmese bombing


MINGALADON, Burma -- Two North Korean officers were found guilty and sentenced to death Friday for killing 21 people in an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate South Korean President Chun Doo Hwan.

The verdict of the three Burmese judges was read to a hushed courtroom filled with diplomats and journalists in Mingaladon, 10 miles north of Rangoon.


The two defendants, North Korean Maj. Zin Mo and Capt. Kang Min Chul, listened impassively while they were told they were guilty of premeditated murder in the bombing of the Martyr's Mausoleum in Rangoon Oct. 9. The defendants, flanked by 18 security men, were sentenced do death.

Four Burmese and 17 South Koreans, including four Cabinet members, were killed in the blast timed to coincide with a wreath-laying ceremony at the national monument. Chun, who was on a state visit, escaped injury because he was delayed in heavy traffic.

Burma, a nonaligned country, declared North Korea responsible for the bombing and severed relations with the communist country.

In delivering its ruling, the court said evidence presented by 28 prosecution witnesses was supported by Kang Min Chul's confession. It established the guilt of the defendants beyond any reasonable doubt, the court said.


In his confession, Kang said he, Zin Mo, and Capt. Sin Kae Chol, who was later killed, were ordered by North Korean Gen. Kang Chang Su to go to Burma to bomb the mausoleum while Chun paid his respects to Aung San, a Burmese national hero.

Defense lawyers argued that none of the witnesses saw the defendants plant the bomb at the mausoleum. The entire case rested on Kang Min Chul's confession, the defense charged.

Kang Min Chul pleaded guilty Tuesday to the murder charges, but Zin Mo refused to enter a plea.

In addition to premeditated murder, Zin Mo was convicted of attempted murder for exploding a grenade and wounding three men trying to capture him Oct. 10 in an east Rangoon creek.

The North Korean, who lost his right arm in the explosion, was also convicted of illegal possession of firearms for carrying a booby-trapped fountain pen. The two convictions carried concurrent prison terms of life and three years.

Kang Min Chul, who also lost his right arm when he was captured, was also sentenced to death for causing the death of three soldiers Oct. 12 in a field near Thakhutpin village, 10 miles west of Rangoon.

He was also convicted of abetting attempted murder Oct. 11, when he and Sin Kae Chol were cornered at Thakhutpin. Sin hurled a grenade, wounding three policemen. Burmese officials reported he died but withheld details.


Kang Min Chul also received a 3-year term for carrying a .25-caliber pistol and a magazine with five rounds of ammunition.

Lawyers said the defendants had seven days to appeal the judgement. The Central Court, the highest judicial body in the land, must approve the death sentences before they can be carried out.

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