Seoul clears executed politician 51 years later

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.

PTI



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

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