South Korean man found not guilty of spying after 40 years

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |  July 11, 2018 at 2:07 PM
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July 11 (UPI) -- Charges against a South Korean man accused of espionage four decades ago were dismissed by a Seoul court on Wednesday.

The Seoul Central District Court's criminal division acquitted the defendant with the surname Park of all charges of espionage, The Korea Times reported.

Park is a native of Sinan County in South Jeolla Province who encountered two "armed assailants" in his home in June 1974, according to the report.

Park, a farmer, reported the encounter and the local police recorded the incident as a case of "cow theft."

But four years later, officers from Seoul's metropolitan police arrived unexpectedly at Park's door and detained him without a warrant. A spy from North Korea who had defected to the South had said he had "intelligence," evidence North Korean agents were in Sinan County around the time Park encountered assailants.

Based on the information, Park was investigated illegally and detained for 55 days.

During his term of imprisonment Park endured water torture and suffered severe injuries.

Under pressure, Park was forced to confess he assisted North Korean agents and received orders from anti-state groups to deliver state secrets, including the location of reserve forces in the area.

After a trial, Park was found guilty of all charges in December 1978 and received a 10-year prison sentence and a 10-year suspended prison sentence.

In its verdict on Wednesday, the Seoul court said there was no evidence supporting the past allegations.

The court also said authorities "illegally detained" the defendant and "illegally acquired evidence," according to News 1.

Park's statements do not amount to a confession, the court said.

The defendant received "physical and mental suffering for a considerable period of time. We seek his forgiveness," the court said in its statement.

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