Civic Organizations Join Hands in Revealing Questionable Deaths

Article excerpt

The presidential panel's fact-finding activities on questionable deaths are expected to gain momentum as civic groups have decided to join the effort.

A coalition of 39 civic groups said yesterday that it would stage a campaign aimed at seeking tip-offs and finding people who were in any way involved in such cases.

It will start the campaign today in front of Seoul Station for two hours daily till the end of next month.

``We are determined to launch the campaign in order to help the Presidential Truth Commission on Suspicious Deaths, as it faces many obstacles in carrying out its mission,'' said Park Chong-ki, a co- representative of the coalition.

Park is the father of Park Chong-chol, who was tortured to death by secret police while attending Seoul National University. His death touched off the June 1987 pro-democracy movement that led to the fall of ex-president Chun Doo-hwan's military regime.

In fact, it is hard for the presidential commission, composed of 50 investigators, to obtain decisive clues or tip-offs, as most cases happened over ten years ago.

The commission is obliged to finish its probe into each case within six months, but there are exceptions in which the period can be expanded once by three months, depending on the situation.

The commission was established amid wide expectations in October 2000 to shed light on mysterious deaths during the military regimes of the 1970s and 80s.

The agency is investigating a total of 80 cases, including three probes initiated by the agency itself, after receiving petitions from families determined to discover the exact cause of death of their loved ones this year. …