Family of Park Chung-hee’s assassin requests retrial

Posted on : 2020-05-27 18:01 KST Modified on : 2020-05-27 18:01 KST
Kim Jae-gyu’s family insists he wasn’t intent on “inciting a insurrection”
<b>Kim Jae-gyu is arrested for the assassination of former President Park Chung-hee in 1979. </b>
Kim Jae-gyu is arrested for the assassination of former President Park Chung-hee in 1979.

The family of former Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) Director Kim Jae-gyu, who was executed for the assassination of former President Park Chung-hee, has requested that a court retry the case, contending that Kim was “innocent of the charges of homicide for the purpose of

.” If a retrial does take place, it may pave the way for a judicial and historical reassessment of the assassination on Oct. 26, 1979, that put an end to Park’s administration.

In a retrial request submitted to Seoul High Court on May 26, Kim’s family said, “What we are ultimately seeking through a retrial concerning the events of Oct. 26, 1979, is less a ‘ruling’ than ‘history.’”

“This will be a meaningful opportunity to interpret October 26 as history based on newly uncovered materials from the time,” they asserted. On Oct. 26, 1979, Kim, who was then director of the KCIA, assassinated Park and Blue House Presidential Security Service Director Cha Ji-cheol, leading to his indictment on charges of “homicide for the purpose of insurrection” and “attempted orchestration of insurrection.” His three trials were concluded within the space of six months, after which he was immediately executed.

A retrial request submitted by the family’s legal representatives stated that Kim “merely planned and executed [the assassinations] on his own as a means of restoring liberal democracy, and he did not engage in any revolt or bloodshed for the purpose of subverting the Constitution.”

“That was merely a scenario concocted by the military administration,” it insisted, maintaining that Kim’s aim in killing Park was not to incite a rebellion. As grounds for requesting a retrial in accordance with the former Martial Law Act and Criminal Procedure Act, it noted that the investigation and trial were illegally conducted by court-martial up to and including charges from before the declaration of the emergency martial law decree, that the emergency martial law invoked at the time was itself in violation of the law, and that Kim had been subjected to torture and abuse.

“While the question of the crime having been committed ‘for the purpose of inciting rebellion’ had been closely contested in the Supreme Court at the time with an eight-to-six decision, even [Kim’s] attorneys were unable to read the court’s ruling, the minority opinion was not reported in the press due to guidelines prohibiting reporting, and the motives for Kim Jae-gyu’s act of homicide were concealed,” the legal team added.

Through the process from his first trial to the Supreme Court hearing, Kim claimed that he had committed the assassinations of Oct. 26, 1979, to restore liberal democracy. At one point, he said he had “fired a shot to the heart of the Yushin administration with the mentality of a beast.” If his family members’ request is accepted and a retrial is held, this paves the way for re-examination whether he was a “traitor responsible for a rebellion” or a figure who put an end to a dictatorship and helped hasten the arrival of democracy.

“The military administration of Chun Doo-hwan charged Kim Jae-gyu with insurrection as a way of seizing power,” the family’s legal team said, indicating its plans to focus on the motive for and significance of Park’s assassination and questions of the subsequent military administration’s involvement in the investigation and trial.

By Jang Ye-ji, staff reporter

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