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(LEAD) S. Korean man jailed for Yasukuni bombing suffering human rights abuses: kin

All News 17:12 December 12, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS foreign ministry official's remarks in paras 7-8)

JEONJU, South Korea, Dec. 12 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean man, held in a Japanese prison for detonating a time bomb in a public restroom at a controversial Tokyo war shrine in 2015, has been suffering human rights abuses during his incarceration, the man's mother claimed Tuesday.

"My son was complaining of pains because he said he was beaten several times by a prison officer," the mother, who said she visited him Friday, told a press conference in the southwestern city of Jeonju.

She also said the man was assaulted due to his failure to fulfill his daily workload and cannot use his right arm as a result. She claimed he has received no treatment for his pain and prison officers verbally abuse him dozens of times daily.

"One time in the middle of the night, a prison officer placed a centipede as big as the palm of his hand into the cell where my son is in custody, and it bit his arm," she claimed.

An official at the South Korean Justice Ministry said he was aware the mother had taken up the issue of the alleged human rights abuses with both the Japanese government and the South Korean Embassy in Tokyo. "But we have yet to receive any information about the human rights abuse case from the embassy," the official said.

The ministry is seeking the man's transfer to South Korean custody in accordance with an international prisoner transfer treaty, the official went on, adding, "We will try to have him transferred from the Japanese prison as part of efforts to protect Korean nationals abroad."1

A foreign ministry official admitted that the man had filed complaints with the Korean Embassy about being improperly treated in prison and that the ministry has asked for the Japanese prison authorities to get to the bottom of the allegations.

He also said that the ministry has checked the health conditions of the man by visiting him and will continue its necessary consular support for him to not be inappropriately treated.

In February, the Tokyo High Court upheld a lower court ruling that sentenced the man to four years in prison for the detonation of the bomb in a public restroom at the Yasukuni Shrine.

The 29-year-old suspect, identified only by his surname Chon, was found guilty in July last year by the Tokyo District Court of breaking into the premises of the shrine on Nov. 23, 2015, and setting up the bomb in a public restroom.

The incident, which resulted in no loss of life but damaged the restroom's ceiling, prompted a bomb disposal unit to be mobilized.

He was arrested in December 2015 shortly after voluntarily returning to Tokyo by plane.

In the February ruling, the court also found Chon guilty of violating laws on explosives control and tariffs.

Chon and his legal representative have been demanding a suspended sentence, as he had no intention of hurting people and admitted to the wrongdoings. Prosecutors had originally sought a five-year sentence.

South Korea and China view the Yasukuni Shrine -- which honors over 2.4 million war dead, including 14 convicted Class-A war criminals -- as a symbol of Japan's past imperialism.

Many South Koreans still harbor deep resentment against Japan over its 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

This file photo, dated Dec. 9, 2015, shows police officers standing guard in front of the Kojimachi Police Station in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward, where a South Korean man was in custody for a suspected bombing at a public restroom at Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine. The shrine is seen as a symbol of Japan's militarist past by neighboring Asian countries. (Yonhap)


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