Seoul clears executed politician 51 years later
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Last Updated: Thursday, January 20, 2011, 21:31
Seoul: South Korea's Supreme Court on Thursday acquitted a left-leaning party leader of subversion and espionage -- 51 years after he was executed by Dictator Syngman Rhee.

Cho Bong-Am was executed on July 31, 1959 on charges of seeking to overturn the South's government in collusion with communist North Korea and of spying for the North.

His family and human rights activists say he fell victim to a conspiracy to eliminate Rhee's political opponents.

"We've been suffering for more than five decades but now I won't be ashamed when I see my father in heaven," said Cho's 83-year-old daughter, Cho Ho-Jung.

"I will put engravings on the blank tombstone I have been keeping for my father, waiting for a day like today."

The case was reopened after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission -- tasked with investigating past human rights abuses -- concluded in 2007 that it was based on flimsy evidence and flawed testimony.

Cho ran on a Progressive Party ticket in the 1956 presidential election and garnered 30 per cent of the vote against Rhee's 70 per cent after the-then opposition's main candidate Shin Ik-Hee died suddenly.

He was arrested in 1958 and executed the following year.

"It cannot be seen that the Progressive Party rejected free democracy or violated the free democratic order. Nor was it aimed at instigating subversion," the Supreme Court said in a statement.

"A false trial resulted in his execution," the court said.


First Published: Thursday, January 20, 2011, 21:31

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