SEOUL, May 16 (Yonhap) -- The prosecution will pursue retrials for 100 fishermen who were wrongfully imprisoned after their release from captivity in North Korea five decades ago, officials said Tuesday.
The Supreme Prosecutors Office has instructed five district offices to initiate the process of requesting retrials ex officio for the crew of 23 fishing boats, who were abducted by North Korea in 1968 and returned to the South the following year.
Upon their return, the fishermen were convicted of various charges, including violations of anti-communist laws.
After examining their cases, the prosecution has confirmed they were unlawfully detained during the investigations, according to the prosecution office.
"This is the first time for the prosecution to file for retrials with its authority for a large group of abducted fishermen who were returned and criminally punished," an official said. "We anticipate a prompt restoration of their honor and rights."
In May 1969, North Korea released 150 fishermen who had been kidnapped while fishing in the East Sea the previous year.
Upon their return, they were detained in various facilities and subjected to investigations.
Among them, one man died and 149 others were found guilty of violating the anti-communist, national security and fisheries laws. Seventeen were sentenced to one year in prison, while 132 others received suspended prison sentences.
The prosecution has already proceeded with retrials for nine of the fishermen, who were subsequently acquitted by a district court in the eastern city of Sokcho on Dec. 21, 2022.
Additionally, retrials have been requested by 40 others on their own behalf or by their families.
In a separate case, 32 fishermen who were abducted by the North in 1971 and released in 1972 were cleared of violations of anti-communist and security laws in a retrial by a district court in the city of Chuncheon, 75 kilometers northeast of Seoul, on May 12.
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