February 13, 2003 18:55
Perjury offenses are on the rise with prosecutors charged 1,343 persons with the crime in 2002, a 60 percent increase since 1998's 845 it was reported Thursday. The number shows a significance difference from Japan, where five persons were charged with perjury in 2000, compared to the 1,198 Koreans during the same year.
Judges and prosecutors say that perjury results from culture; telling lies is not considered to be "seriously wrong," and good friends are not supposed to "tell" on each other.
Judge Yoon Nam-geun of the Changwon District Court said that he saw cases where witnesses to close friends on trial did not appear saying that they were "sick," or saying that they "did not remember" when they did give testimony. Judge Yoon said that these were not unjust citizens, just regular Koreans who could not say anything "bad" about close friends.
Another reason for the increase in perjury is said to be "soft" sentencing as in 2001, out of 846 perjury cases tried, only 181 (21 percent) were given prison sentences. Out of 200,000 criminal cases, 25 percent were sentenced to jail terms.
Such judicial atmosphere is different from that of other developed countries; former US President Bill Clinton was disbarred for perjury.
(Park Se-yong, firstname.lastname@example.org)
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