[RE: AHRC-UAC-083-2010: SOUTH KOREA: A criminal charge filed against a lawyer for providing legal advice]
The State of Human Rights in South Korea in 2011 http://www.humanrights.asia/resources/hrreport/2011/AHRC-SPR-010-2011/view
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information regarding the case of Mr. Kwon Young-gook, a lawyer who faced criminal charges for obstruction the performance of official duties after intervening to provide legal assistance to demonstrators who were illegally arrested by the police on June 26, 2009 and freed by the Suwon District court on October 24, 2011. While welcoming the decision by the court, we are concerned that the prosecutor brought this case to the court of appeal on November 17, 2011.
Mr. Kwon Young-gook was charged with the obstruction of performance of official duties after he intervened in the illegal arrest of the demonstrators who planned to attend a press conference on June 26, 2009 (for details: AHRC-UAC-083-2010)
The Suwon District Court found Mr. Kwon not guilty on October 24, 2011. According to the judgment obtained, with regards to the obstruction of performance of official duties, it says, “there found no harm for demonstrators to attend the press conference with regards to the Ssang Yong Motor Company, no evidence found enough to acknowledge that there was imminent reason for detaining the demonstrators and police’s surrounding them with the intention not to move is not acceptable that it was necessary to the extent.”
In a nutshell, the charge against Mr. Kwon for obstruction of performance of official duties is not established since the arrest and detention of demonstrators is found unlawful.
Such interpretation by the Suwon District Court is based from the decision made by the Supreme Court regarding the case no. 99DO4341, 2000.
However, the prosecutor did not agree with the judgment and brought it to the court of appeal on November 17, 2011.
Please send a letter to the authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case and requesting withdrawal of the appeal. Please note that the AHRC has also written separate letters to the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.
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To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER
SOUTH KOREA: Appeal against a lawyer providing legal assistance should be withdrawn
Name of victim: Mr. Kwon Young-Gook, a chair of labour committee from MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society, non-governmental organization; original case no.: 2009KODAN1660: Article 136 of Criminal Act (Obstruction of Performance of Official Duties); found not guilty by the Suwon District Court on October 24, 2011
Officers involved: Mr. Yu Dong-hyuk; the company commander of auxiliary police attached to the Pyeongtaek police station
Case No. at Court of Appeal: 2011NO5044 (Obstruction of Performance of Official Duties etc.)
Date of appeal: November 17, 2011
I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the appeal by the prosecutor's office on the case of Mr. Kwon who was found not guilty by the Suwon District Court on October 24, 2011. Mr. Kwon was originally charged with the obstruction of performance of official duties on providing legal assistance to the workers of Ssang yong motor company to attend a press conference on June 26, 2009.
According to the judgment obtained, the court freed Mr. Kwon with regards to the obstruction of official duties, which can be read, "The obstruction of performance of official duties should not be established if the official duties are unlawful and the performance of official duties should fall into not only abstract authority but also legal requirement and its procedures."
In case of Mr. Kwon, his involvement in defending those who were illegally arrested and detained by force without being informed the gist of fact of crime and the reason of arrest, and the suspect of the right to counsel by the police is justifiable and should not be interpreted as obstruction of performance of official duties.
I regret to note, however, that the prosecutor brought this case to the court of appeal on November 17, 2011 despite the fact that with regards to the obstruction of performance of official duties are already set up not only by the Criminal Act but also by the numerous precedent cases by the Supreme Court.
Under this circumstance, it appears to have been interpreted that the prosecutor's appeal was made not with the intention to arguing the judgment of the district court on legal perspectives but punishing Mr. Kwon by taking in pursuit of his case as long as possible though legal proceedings or politically oriented. There is no reason left to the prosecutor's office to pursue this case.
I therefore, urge you to withdraw the appeal of the case of Mr. Kwon. If you keep pursuing this case with recognizing the fact that Mr. Kwon's act is not guilty, your refusal of withdrawal will only show that the prosecutor troubles him through your unnecessary or excessive appeal with malicious intent to it whereas no disciplinary action has been made against the law enforcement agent.
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
1. Mr. Han Sang-Dea
Supreme Prosecutor's Office
REPUBLIC OF KOREA
Fax: +82 2 3480 2555
Tel: +82 2 3480 2000
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (firstname.lastname@example.org)