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Court orders state to compensate man jailed for 10 yrs on wrongful murder conviction

All News 18:04 January 13, 2021

SEOUL, Jan. 13 (Yonhap) -- A court ordered Wednesday the government to pay compensation to a man who served a 10-year prison term after being wrongfully convicted of murder in 2000.

The Seoul Central District Court ruled in favor of the 37-year-old man, only identified by his surname Choi, in a damages suit he filed against the government, a police officer and a prosecutor who investigated his case. He was acquitted of murder in 2016.

The court ordered the government make financial reparations of some 1.3 billion won (US$1.19 million) to Choi and 300 million won to his family.

The court also ruled that the police officer who had forced Choi to confess to a crime he did not commit and the prosecutor who had dropped charges against the real culprit years later must take responsibility for 20 percent of the total payment.

This file photo shows the 37-year-old man (R), surnamed Choi, who served 10 years in prison on a wrongful murder conviction, and his lawyer. (Yonhap)

"The state inflicted irreversible damage on an innocent man, let alone protecting the basic rights of people," the court said.

Choi spent 10 years behind the bars after he was convicted of stabbing and killing a 42-year-old taxi driver in Iksan, some 170 kilometers south of Seoul, in August 2000, when he was 16 years old.

In 2003, the police learned of the real culprit and probed the 40-year-old suspect, surnamed Kim. But the prosecutor did not indict him, citing lack of evidence.

In 2013, Choi, who was released from prison after completing his sentence, filed for a retrial with the court, claiming that the police unlawfully arrested, confined and forced him to falsely confess. Three years later, he was acquitted of the murder charge.

Kim was arrested again later and was sentenced to 15 years in prison by the Supreme Court in 2018.


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