South Korea’s top prosecutor apologised Tuesday over human rights abuses under past “authoritarian governments”, including the torture and execution of pro-democracy activists.
The country was a military dictatorship for much of its existence, only embracing democracy in the 1980s.
The powerful legal service has been criticised for decades for prosecuting political dissent or turning a blind eye to state abuses, particularly against dissidents and pro-democracy activists during army-backed rule.
“I offer my deepest apology to the people of South Korea,” said Moon Moo-Il, who took office as prosecutor-general last month.
“I regret that the prosecution did not fulfill its duty to adhere to legal procedures and protect human rights in some of the past political cases under authoritarian governments,” he said in the first such apology by a chief prosecutor.
Moon cited prosecutions of democracy activists in the 1960s and 70s for supposedly forming a secret, pro-North Korea group to overthrow the South’s government under then-dictator Park Chung-Hee.
The case drew widespread criticism over the use of torture and lack of evidence, but eight activists were eventually sentenced to death in 1975 and executed the next day.—AFP