Nov. 12 (UPI) -- South Korean activists held a protest outside the residence of former President Chun Doo-hwan on Tuesday, challenging claims the ex-dictator is suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
Activists representing victims of state violence during the 1980 Gwangju Uprising said they are outraged following the leak of video footage last week, showing Chun playing a round of golf, EDaily reported.
During the protest on Tuesday, the group lit an effigy of Chun on fire and attempted to enter Chun's residence but was blocked by police, according to the report.
Chun's legal counsel has previously said the former dictator, who ruled South Korea from 1979 to 1988, was heavily affected by memory loss since 2013 and cannot remember key events during the incident in Gwangju.
Chun, 88, has been accused of ordering helicopters to fire at civilians during the protests, but he cannot recall past decisions and is unable to stand trial, his representatives have claimed.
Critics in Seoul say the golf footage shows Chun is sufficiently fit to stand trial for libel. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit say Chun defamed his accusers. The Gwangju District Court has issued a subpoena, but Chun has declined to come to hearings.
Kim Han-kyu, a former chairman of the Seoul Bar Association, said a defendant is required to attend a hearing, regardless of a condition like Alzheimer's.
"Everyone knows golfing is much harder than going to court," Kim said, according to local news service MoneyToday.
The libel lawsuit has serious implications for Chun. The plaintiff, Cho Young-dae, filed the complaint after Chun called Cho's late uncle, priest Cho Chul-hyun, a "Satan wearing a mask," in his memoir published in 2017.
Cho Chul-hyun had claimed he saw military firing at people from helicopters, a claim Chun's side has disputed.
If convicted of libel, Chun could face up to two years in prison or up to $4,400 in fines.
Jang Seong-bae, the head of a Gwangju-related activist group, said Tuesday Chun must stand trial for the helicopter shooting. Chun's refusal to appear in court is an "insult" to the citizens of Gwangju, Jang said, according to EDaily.
Chun was previously sentenced to death in 1996, for treason and bribery. His sentence was reduced to life imprisonment. He was released on a presidential pardon in 1997.