A local court on Tuesday rejected the prosecution’s request to arrest a man accused of assaulting Jongno Police Chief Park Geon-chan.
The Seoul Central District Court said it was unclear whether Park was assaulted, and that the accused, identified by his family name Kim, had the right to defend himself from the accusations.
Kim, 54, was apprehended on Nov. 27 after police film footage showed him grabbing Park’s cap and yelling at him around 9:30 p.m. during a rally against the ratification of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement in Seoul on Nov. 26. Park, who was in uniform, elbowed his way into the crowd of protesters “in order to persuade rally organizers to disperse participants.”
Park and his staff claimed that soon after entering the crowd, Park was assaulted by protesters.
He was taken to a nearby hospital. The doctors said it would take him three weeks of treatment to fully recover.
Kim admitted to having taken his cap but denied any other acts against the police officer.
President Lee Myung-bak called the assault a “threat to democracy.”
However, some rally participants, including opposition lawmakers, argue that Park intentionally provoked the assault by entering the crowd of protesters in uniform, for the purpose of gaining public sympathy following the firing of water cannons at anti-FTA protesters in the cold winter weather. Police officers usually wear civilian clothes when trying to talk with protesters.
A Jongno police officer said they would reapply for the arrest warrant.
“We are sure that the assault took place. We will strengthen our evidence to bring those who carry out assaults to justice,” he was quoted as saying to a local newspaper.
By Bae Ji-sook (firstname.lastname@example.org