SEOUL, Nov. 21 (Yonhap) -- A civil tribunal will be held in South Korea next year to find the truth about the alleged civilian massacres committed by South Korean soldiers during the Vietnam War in the late 1960s to early 1970s, its organizing committee said Tuesday.
A committee of lawyers and experts said the preparation is underway to hold the tribunal in April. Bereaved families and surviving victims are expected to take the stand as plaintiffs seeking compensation from the South Korean government, it said.
Thousands of Vietnamese are alleged to have been killed by Korean armed forces dispatched to the Southeast Asian country as a U.S. ally against the communist North Vietnam.
In 1968, Korean marines allegedly slaughtered unarmed villagers including young women and children in two eastern coastal towns of Phong Nhi and Phong Nhat in Quang Nam Province. Survivors of the massacres and victims' families have testified that Korean combatants raped and murdered their people.
The South Korean government has never officially admitted to the alleged atrocities. Then commanding officer Lieutenant-General Chae Myung-shin has claimed they were Viet Cong disguised as South Korean troops by wearing their uniforms as a way to spread negative images about Korean forces.
Although the tribunal is not legally binding, every piece of evidence, testimony and other sources revealed during the hearing will be used in the real compensation suit the committee will be filing against the government on behalf of the victims, the committee said.
It is also pursuing a litigation against the state seeking the disclosure of sealed government files on the massacres compiled by the spy agency at the time in 1969.
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