Ex-President Stands Trial at Site of Gwangju Massacre

  • By Kim Sung-hyun

    March 12, 2019 10:46

    Disgraced ex-president Chun Doo-hwan appeared in court in Gwangju on Monday on charges of defamation relating to his brutal suppression of the 1980 democratic uprising in the southwestern city.

    Chun (88) is charged with defaming a dissident priest in a memoir by claiming he lied when he said he witnessed soldiers firing at citizens from helicopters during the suppression. Relatives of the priest, who has died since his testimony, sued.

    The last time Chun stood trial was in 1996, when he was convicted of staging the coup that brought him to power.

    Former President Chun Doo-hwan (center) leaves the Gwangju District Court along with his wife Lee Soon-ja after a trial in the southwestern city on Monday.

    Chun and his wife, Lee Soon-ja (80), left his home in Seoul by chauffeur-driven car at around 8:30 a.m. He arrived at the Gwangju District Court at around 12:34 p.m. and walked about 10 m from his car to the courthouse as throngs of reporters stood by.

    A reporter pushed Chun's chest while asking him, "Do you acknowledge the charges against you?" and "Do you deny ordering soldiers to fire?" Chun, who allegedly has dementia and has never admitted his crimes, shouted back, "What do you think you're doing?"

    Around 200 demonstrators held up signs with slogans urging Chung to be punished.

    The hearing lasted only around 75 minutes. Chun only answered "yes" around four times to questions from the judge to verify his identity, but remained silent through most of the proceedings and at one point dozed off.

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