Yoon Seong-yeo — now in his 50s — was discovered not responsible Thursday following a retrial within the northwestern metropolis of Suwon over the 1988 rape and homicide of a 13-year-old in her bed room in Hwaseong, then a rural, undeveloped space close to the nation’s capital Seoul.

{The teenager} was certainly one of 10 killed within the space between 1986 and 1991 in a spate of high-profile deaths referred to as the Hwaseong murders. Yoon was the one individual ever convicted in connection to the killings. He was sentenced to life in jail and in the end spent 20 years behind bars for the 13-year-old’s rape and homicide.

In a verdict launched Thursday, decide Park Jeong-je discovered that police had used torture, together with sleep deprivation, and unlawful detainment to acquire Yoon’s confession to the 1988 homicide.

“As a member of the judiciary, I apologize to the accused, who suffered nice bodily and psychological ache, for the courtroom’s failure to operate correctly because the final bastion of human rights,” he mentioned. We sincerely hope that the retrial of this case will likely be somewhat consoling and contribute to the restoration of the accused’s honor.”

The outcome means Yoon’s identify is lastly cleared — greater than 30 years after the homicide passed off. It is also a uncommon consequence in South Korea, the place solely a tiny fraction of functions for retrials are accepted, in keeping with specialists.

“I am relieved that the ultimate ruling discovered me harmless,” Yoon mentioned following the decision. “I can let down this heavy load I have been carrying for 30 years and get some relaxation.”

Yoon has claimed his innocence for years, however was solely granted a retrial after police made a breakthrough within the case final 12 months.

In September, police introduced that new DNA proof linked not less than among the Hwaseong murders to Lee Chun-jae, who has been in jail since 1994 for the rape and homicide of his sister-in-law. The next month, Lee confessed to all 10 of the murders and one other 4 that police didn’t present particulars on.

Coerced confession

On the months-long retrial, Yoon’s attorneys argued that their shopper — who was a 22-year-old, uneducated repairman with a limp from childhood polio when he was arrested — was coerced by police into confessing.

Yoon advised CNN that he was handcuffed in a room for 3 days, was not allowed to sleep, and barely ate throughout the interrogation.

30 years ago, he was wrongfully convicted of murder. Now police have apologized for forcing him to make a false confession
In July, Gyeonggi Nambu Provicial Police Company chief Bae Yong-ju admitted that throughout the preliminary investigation in 1989, police assaulted Yoon and coerced him into making a false confession.

“We bow down and apologize to all victims of the crimes of Lee Chun-jae, households of victims, and victims of police investigations, together with Yoon,” Bae mentioned, noting others had suffered from “police malpractice” throughout the preliminary Hwaseong investigation.

In response to Lee Soo-jung, a forensic psychology professor at Kyonggi College, it was frequent within the 1980s for suspected criminals in South Korea to be stored awake for lengthy intervals to extract a confession. Sleep deprivation is taken into account a type of torture.

In an interview with CNN in November, Korean Nationwide Police Company commissioner common Kim Chang-yong mentioned final 12 months’s police investigation revealed that police had used unlawful confinement and incorrect investigation strategies. He mentioned the choice to disclose previous wrongdoing confirmed police dedication to not making the identical errors.

“It was a shameful, unlawful investigation,” he mentioned. “I imagine that it ought to by no means occur once more and that is why we’d like checks and balances. Police are working arduous to not repeat previous errors.”

Chilly case solved

For many years, the Hwaseong murders — which had been revisited in “Reminiscences of Homicide,” a 2003 movie by “Parasite” director Bong Joon Ho — remained unsolved. Lee’s confession might have helped carry some closure to the households of the victims.

Kim mentioned police profilers interviewed Lee 52 occasions over almost seven months earlier than he admitted to all of the crimes he had dedicated. “He didn’t confess simply,” Kim mentioned.

On one remarkable session in November throughout the months-long retrial, Lee took the stand to admit to the killings in entrance of Yoon. He mentioned he did not know why he hadn’t been a suspect throughout the preliminary investigation, and mentioned he had even been questioned by police on the time of the killings when he had a watch belonging to one of many victims on his individual.

“I did not suppose the crimes could be buried ceaselessly,” Lee mentioned. “I got here and testified and described the crimes in hopes for (the victims and their households) to search out some consolation when the reality is revealed. I am going to reside my life with repent.”

What occurs subsequent

Yoon can now search compensation for the 20 years he spent wrongfully imprisoned. One among Yoon’s attorneys, Park Joon-young, advised CNN earlier this 12 months that Yoon might most likely count on greater than $1 million in compensation.

Yoon has beforehand advised CNN that no amount of cash can compensate him for the years he spent in jail and the influence on his fame and household.

Police are planning to concern a white paper on the Hwaseong case and police failures throughout the preliminary investigation. Kim mentioned it’s “unimaginable” to think about such failings occurring now.

There’s unlikely to be justice for the households of the Hwaseong victims.

Regardless that Lee has confessed to the murders, he can’t be prosecuted for the Hwaseong instances because the statute of limitations on these killings has expired.

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