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(2nd LD) Gov't drops indemnity suit against residents over Jeju naval base

All Headlines 14:26 December 12, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES with PM's comments)

SEOUL, Dec. 12 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean government decided Tuesday to quit a lawsuit against residents on Jeju Island and activists for having obstructed the construction of a major naval base there.

The government approved a related motion at the Cabinet meeting, effectively putting an end to a longtime conflict with the protesters and the local community.

In March 2016, the Navy filed the suit with the Seoul Central District Court to exercise its right to indemnity against 116 individuals and five entities.

It cited losses of 3.45 billion won (US$3.16 million) in taxpayer money from a delay in the construction work attributable to their fierce protests.

The court delivered an offer to the government in late November to withdraw the suit and resolve all relevant legal issues.

"The government has decided to accept it for the healing of conflict and national unity," the Ministry of National Defense said in a statement.

The retraction of the legal step is a campaign pledge of the left-leaning President Moon Jae-in.

The construction of the Jeju base in the southern part of the semitropical island started in 2006 and was completed last year.

Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon also said the decision was aimed at promoting national unity.

"This is a decision based on a broad perspective aimed at resolving conflict and uniting the people," Lee said during the Cabinet meeting. "I hope this will help residents and the Navy work together for a better future."

A ceremony is under way for the opening of the Jeju Naval Base in this photo taken Feb. 26, 2016. (Yonhap)

lcd@yna.co.kr
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