March 08, 2019 11:47
Former president Chun Doo-hwan will show up for his defamation trial in Gwangju on Monday even though he allegedly suffers from dementia and may no longer understand the proceedings.
Chun (88) was indicted in May last year after claiming in a memoir that an activist priest was lying when he said he witnessed soldiers firing at citizens from helicopters during the suppression of the 1980 Gwangju Democratic Uprising. Chun was president at the time of the massacre, and relatives of the priest, who has died since his testimony, sued.
The first trial date was set for August last year, but Chun did not show up citing ill health. But his handlers seem to have changed their mind since he could be compelled to attend if he does not turn up voluntarily.
Chun's lawyer, Chung Joo-kyo, said the former president "could not show up for trial due to unavoidable factors like an application for a change of jurisdiction and health conditions due to a severe cold, but will abide by the summons this time." Chun wanted to stand trial elsewhere, saying he can expect no fairness in Gwangju itself.
Chung added that Chun's wife, Lee Soon-ja, has applied for a seat at his side and the court accepted in view of his old age.
Security around the courthouse is being beefed up.
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