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South Korea to investigate case of defector raped by police

South Korea police will investigate sexual misconduct and negligence among its ranks following the disappearance of a defector accused of sexual assault. File Photo by Yonhap
South Korea police will investigate sexual misconduct and negligence among its ranks following the disappearance of a defector accused of sexual assault. File Photo by Yonhap

July 29 (UPI) -- South Korea's National Police Agency is launching an investigation into the case of a local officer accused of raping a North Korean defector at least a dozen times.

The decision to launch the investigation follows a separate case in which a defector accused of sexually assaulting another in the South escaped to the North.

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The two cases could shed light on the plight of North Korean women in the South.

The case of police misconduct involves a police officer in Seoul's Seocho district and a North Korean woman who was under his observation.

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The woman accuses the officer of sexually assaulting her 12 times over two years, beginning in May 2016. The defector requested help from district police, but according to her legal counsel, the report was not investigated, News 1 reported.

The separate case of the runaway defector involves alleged police negligence in the city of Gimpo, where the man lived before escaping across the border. Police in the South Korean city may have not taken immediate measures to detain the suspect, according to News 1.

South Korea could be seeking the repatriation of the defector.

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Seoul unification ministry spokesman Yoh Sang-key said Wednesday at a regular press briefing the case is under investigation, Yonhap reported.

The decision to request the return of the defector to the South is to be made after a comprehensive review, including "accounting for inter-Korea relations," Yoh said.

The defector, identified as a 24-year-old man with the surname Kim, may have used an open storm drain to cross into the North from the South's Ganghwa Island.

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Witnesses in his apartment complex said they saw him move out of the building days before the incident, according to local press reports.

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