December 18, 2020 12:55
A 53-year-old man has been cleared after serving 20 years for the murder of a woman who was in fact the eighth victim of notorious serial killer Lee Chun-jae. A court ordered the retrial of Yoon Sung-yeo after Lee confessed 14 murders in Hwaseong, Suwon and Cheongju between 1986 and 1991.
Yoon had been falsely accused of murdering a 13-year-old girl at her home in Hwaseong in 1988 and was sentenced to life behind bars in 1990.
The Suwon District Court ruled Thursday that there was no evidence that Yoon committed the murder and found him innocent. "The statements and confessions the accused made to police were coerced following illegal arrest and detention and contradict the evidence," the presiding judge said.
"In contrast, Lee Chun-jae's statements and confessions are both specific and coincide with the evidence, making them highly credible."
The judge also apologized on behalf of the judiciary for "failing to act as the last bastion of protecting human rights."
After the verdict, Yoon said, "I hope that trials will be fairer from now on so that nobody else has to go through what I did."
The National Police Agency also apologized, saying in a statement, "We deeply regret the enormous pain we caused by making an innocent young man serve 20 years in prison."
Yoon's lawyer said he plans to seek compensation from the state as well as the National Forensic Service and police "to hold them accountable for their wrongdoings in investigating [Yoon] back then."
"How can I get back the years of my life that were lost even if I receive W10 billion or W100 billion?" Yoon said in a recent interview. "Would you want to spend 20 years in prison if I said I’ll give you W2 billion?" (US$1=W1,094).
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