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(LEAD) Complaint to be filed against Moon on attempted murder charges over N.K. fishermen's repatriation

Defense 13:51 July 13, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with more info in paras 4, 8)
By Kim Han-joo

SEOUL, July 13 (Yonhap) -- A group of South Korean lawyers said Wednesday it will file a complaint against former President Moon Jae-in for attempted murder charges in connection with the deportation of North Korean defectors in 2019.

In November 2019, two North Korean fishermen were captured near the eastern inter-Korean sea border, and they later confessed to killing 16 fellow crew members and expressed a desire to defect.

However, the Moon administration sent them back to the North, where they could face harsh punishment, saying their intentions are insincere. The move stoked suspicion the Seoul government tried to repatriate the defectors in an effort to curry favor with Pyongyang.

On Wednesday, the Lawyers for Human Rights and Unification of Korea said it will ask the prosecution to investigate Moon as an accomplice in charges of attempted murder, illegal arrest and abduction, abuse of power, destruction of evidence, and violation of the Act on Punishment of Crimes under Jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

"It is a heavy crime in violation of the Constitution and international laws, as (the two fishermen) were inevitably killed by the Kim Jong-un regime upon being returned back to the North," the organization said.

Criticism of the decision to repatriate them rose further after the unification ministry released photos Tuesday showing the two refusing to cross the Military Demarcation Line at the truce village of Panmunjom while being taken to be handed over to North Korean authorities.

"Photos released by the unification ministry show the horrific scene of crimes against humanity that cannot be overlooked," the organization said.

The group further argued the two fishermen had submitted a declaration of intent to defect in their handwriting, contradicting the former administration's announcement.

The organization said it will file the complaint against Moon with the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office on Monday.

This photo, provided by the Ministry of Unification on July 12, 2022, shows a North Korean fisherman, who was captured near the eastern inter-Korean sea border, resisting as he is handed over to North Korean authorities in the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom in November 2019. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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