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(LEAD) In court, man admits to killings of 14 women, girls in 1980s, says then-police probe not understandable

All News 20:27 November 02, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS lead; ADDS more comments in paras 8-9; MODIFIES headline)

SUWON, South Korea, Nov. 2 (Yonhap) -- Lee Chun-jae, the suspect in one of the nation's most notorious serial killings, admitted in court Monday that he murdered 14 women and girls three decades earlier, including a 13-year-old girl in 1988, while attending the retrial of a man who was allegedly wrongly convicted and served 20 years in prison in the case.

Lee, 57, was identified in September last year as a suspect in at least three of the 10 killings that took place in Hwaseong, south of Seoul, between 1986 and 1991. He later confessed to all the cases, including one in which another man, identified by his surname Yoon, was charged and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1989.

Yoon, who was released on parole in 2009, filed for a retrial at a district court in Suwon, south of Seoul, in November last year.

This photo shows a courtroom at Suwon District Court in Suwon, south of Seoul, where on Nov. 2, 2020, Lee Chun-jae (shown in the image on the mobile phone), the suspect in one of the nation's most notorious serial killings, testified about his rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl in 1988 during the retrial of a man who was convicted and served 20 years in prison in the case. (Yonhap)

Lee attended the hearing as a witness and admitted that he committed 14 murders and about 30 sexual crimes.

"I am the real criminal," Lee said while wearing a blue-green prisoner's uniform. He is serving a life sentence for raping and killing his sister-in-law in 1994.

"I sincerely apologize to Mr. Yoon, who was falsely charged with the killing I committed and served prison time." Lee said. "I wish for the eternal rest of the victims and apologize to the bereaved families and all those involved in the cases."

He added he is reflecting on himself and that he confessed with such a mind.

Lee said he didn't think his crime "would be buried forever." He added he "still does not understand" why he was not on the list of suspects at that time, claiming he did not conceal evidence.

On a question about the reason for his crime, Lee said he has not found "the answer yet," describing it as an impulsive act, rather than one with "any specific plan or thought."

Lee will not be prosecuted in the cases as the statute of limitations on them has expired.

When asked about the reason for his crimes, he said, "I don't know exactly why I lived such a life at that time. I didn't plan and prepare to commit the crimes, and I just acted depending on the situation," he added.

Yoon, 53, calmly watched the hearing from the defendant's seat.

Yoon has claimed police forced him to make a false confession at that time. The local prosecutors office has said that its reinvestigation found that he may have been wrongfully charged.

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