S.Korea government sued in child rape case

SEOUL, Dec 16, 2009 (AFP) - A child rape victim and her family have sued South Korea's government, alleging negligence by state prosecutors aggravated her mental trauma, lawyers said Wednesday.

The case of the eight-year-old girl, who suffered permanent internal injuries in the attack, has already sparked a national outcry over the perceived lenient sentence passed by judges on her attacker.

The lawsuit criticising the prosecutors and seeking 30 million won (25,729 dollars) in compensation was filed Tuesday after a lawyers' association disclosed the outcome of its probe into the case.

"Prosecutors failed to act in time to present video evidence in the trial of the rapist, compelling the victim to give court testimony and traumatising her again," the family said in a statement.

The Korean Bar Association in its own statement also said that prosecutors' negligence aggravated the victim's mental trauma.

It said rapist Cho Du-Sun, 57, had been recorded on video shortly after his arrest and this should have been used as crucial identification evidence, but prosecutors presented it to the court only on the eve of an appeal sentencing.

As a result, it said, the victim was forced to undergo a detailed cross-examination by the defence.

The girl, according to the association, also had to repeat her testimony four times because prosecutors had trouble handling a video recorder.

Prosecutors rejected the claims as exaggerated, saying they had to question the victim repeatedly because Cho denied the accusations and she had a hard time remembering the attack.

They also said her voice had been inaudible in the first recording.

The supreme court in September jailed Cho for 12 years. Prosecutors had demanded a life sentence but judges cited his alcohol consumption as a mitigating factor.

More than 400,000 people filed an Internet petition demanding Cho be hanged. The penalty still exists in South Korea but no one has been executed for 10 years.

The case prompted parliament to enact a law under which information on convicted child sex offenders will be posted on a website.

Source: AFP

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