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Ex-President Chun leaves for Gwangju to attend libel trial after two no-shows

All News 09:19 August 09, 2021

SEOUL, Aug. 9 (Yonhap) -- Former President Chun Doo-hwan left for the southwestern city of Gwangju on Monday to attend an appellate court hearing on a defamation case after having failed to show up twice.

The 90-year-old Chun, who served as president from 1980 to 1988, departed from his home in western Seoul at 8:25 a.m. to attend his hearing at the Gwangju District Court's appellate division in Gwangju, about 330 kilometers to the south, in the afternoon.

Former President Chun Doo-hwan (R) leaves his house in western Seoul on Aug. 9, 2021, to attend an appellate court hearing on a defamation case in Gwangju, southwestern South Korea. (Yonhap)

He came out of his house in a gray suit, accompanied by his wife, Lee Sun-ja, and waved once toward people standing outside before getting into a car. The former president was asked by reporters if he intends to apologize to his victims but did not respond.

Chun has been absent from two previous appellate court hearings, held in May and June, to deal with his defamation case related to a late Catholic priest's testimony about the military's brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Gwangju in 1980.

Chun's side previously argued that an appellate trial can proceed in the absence of a defendant but has changed its attitude after the court warned about possible disadvantages.

Last November, the Gwangju District Court sentenced Chun to eight months in prison, suspended for two years, for defaming the late Catholic priest Cho Pius, who testified to having witnessed Chun's troops shooting from helicopters at Gwangju's pro-democracy demonstrators. Chun was indicted in May 2018 on defamation charges after denouncing Cho as a "shameless liar" in his controversial memoirs published in 2017.

Chun appealed but failed to show up to the first and second appellate trials held May 10 and June 14, respectively.

The former Army general seized power in a 1979 coup, and his troops ruthlessly cracked down on the nine-day uprising that started on May 18, 1980, leaving more than 200 dead and 1,800 others wounded, according to conservative official data.

Chun received a death sentence in 1996 for treason and bribery but was released in December 1997 on a presidential pardon.


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