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DP proposes military sex crimes case be probed, tried under civilian jurisdiction

All News 15:22 June 08, 2021

SEOUL, June 8 (Yonhap) -- The ruling Democratic Party (DP) on Tuesday proposed that legal proceedings involving sex-related crimes in the military be handled under the civilian criminal justice system, amid a public uproar over the military's alleged mishandling of a recent Air Force sexual harassment case.

In the first meeting of the DP's task force on military crimes, Rep. Park Ju-min insisted that authorities should "actively review means of handling the investigations and trials of forced indecent acts that occurred in the military under civilian jurisdiction."

The task force was formed amid the recent suicide of a sexually harassed female Air Force master sergeant and the military's alleged mishandling of the case. Her family claimed that authorities of her unit attempted to persuade her to reach a settlement with the perpetrator without taking measures to protect her or launching an immediate investigation.

Members of the ruling Democratic Party's task force on military crimes hold a meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul on June 8, 2021. (Yonhap)

Park also stressed the importance of reforming the military's culture and system, proposing reform through legislation "if the military fails to change on its own."

Rep. Min Hong-chul, the task force's chief, pledged to present measures centered on better protection of victims while Rep. Jung Choun-sook, chairperson of the parliament's gender equality committee, promised to review means of strengthening the authority of the defense ministry's body handling gender equality matters.

In the face of intense public fury over the case, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Lee Seong-yong tendered his resignation last week, which President Moon Jae-in accepted immediately. On Sunday, Moon also met with the family of the victim at the funeral home and apologized for "the state's failure to protect her."

A military officer pays tribute at the funeral of a noncommissioned female officer in Seongnam, just south of Seoul, on June 6, 2021. The deceased apparently took her own life after being victimized in a military sexual harassment case and forced to remain silent by senior officials. (Yonhap)

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