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Defectors group to file complaint over court hearing on N.K. restaurant staff

All Headlines 11:28 June 23, 2016

By Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL, June 23 (Yonhap) -- An association of North Korean defectors said Thursday it will file a complaint against local lawyers over a recent court hearing on the legality of Seoul's protection of 12 North Korean waitresses who defected to the South in April.

The association, comprised of some 20 North Korean defectors groups, plans to register a complaint with the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office, seeking a probe into the lawyers for violating the National Security Law.

On Tuesday, a closed-door session opened as the Lawyers for a Democratic Society, or Minbyun, requested the Seoul Central District Court to decide on the legitimacy of the state intelligence agency's protection of the defectors, who fled a North Korean-run restaurant in China with a male manager.

The lawyers have asked the National Intelligence Service (NIS) to allow them to meet the restaurant workers to clarify Pyongyang's claim that they were kidnapped by Seoul.

The defectors organization said the lawyers also defamed the South Korean government by being sympathetic to the North's claim.

Free North Korea Radio, which leads the association on the issue, denounced the lawyers for infringing upon the defectors' human rights by asking them to appear in court despite their unwillingness to attend the hearing.

"The lawyers' action could further pose threats to the defectors' families back in the North," said Kim Seong-min, chief of the Seoul-based broadcaster.

The court hearing, meanwhile, has been put on hold as the lawyers group asked the judge to be replaced, raising questions over the fairness of the legal procedures.


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