The Supreme Court confirmed the original verdict on Pastor Jin Yong-sik and his two members, who were prosecuted without detention for abetting illegal confinement and for forcing those who believe in a certain religion to convert, and dismissed their appeal.
On the 23rd, the Supreme Court Department 3 (Justice Yang Chang-su) declared that the court dismissed the appeal of Pastor Jin Yong-sik (Vice-Chairman of CCK Heresy Countermeasure Committee, and the Pastor of Ansan S. Church), who was prosecuted without detention on charges of violation of the Punishment of Violences, etc. Act (Night, Joint Coercion, Confinement), as he confined some members of a particular religious body in his church, and forced them to convert by means of extreme ways such as violence, intimidation, and coercion. The court confirmed the original verdict of sentencing him to ten months in prison with two years’ probation.
As well, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of the two members (Jeong & Lee) from the Ansan S. Church, who plotted with Pastor Jin, helped him confine the victims, and forced them to convert, using violence and intimidation, and the court confirmed their original verdict of six months in jail with one year’s probation, and four months in jail with one year’s probation respectively.
The department of justice said, “The original verdict acknowledged the defendants to be guilty, considering the evidence. The original verdict was given according to the judge’s rational free evaluation of evidence, and the verdict sounds fair and reasonable. As for grounds for appeal—a mistake of fact due to the violation of rule of evidence, and misunderstanding of legal principles on coercion and confinement, there is no illegality.”
The court also judged, “According to the details and purpose of the defendants’ coercion and abetting confinement, their acts are socially too severe to be considered as justifiable acts that are socially accepted under Article 20 of the Criminal Code.”
Pastor Jin and two more members of his church have been suspected of confining the victims in a mental hospital, assaulting and intimidating them by plotting with the victims’ husbands and families under the purpose of converting their religion in 2000 and 2001 while running their “Heresy Clinic.” In particular, it turned out that they actively participated in putting the victims in a mental hospital by force and confining them, making bad use of the weak point of Article 24 of the Mental Health Act; they confined the victims in the Chook-Ryoung Evangelical Hospital and administered medicine by force and treated them unfairly—allowing no communication, no visitors, and no taking walks; Ms. Jeong was confined for 71 days, Ms. Oh for 82 days, and Ms. Jin then a university student for 65 days in a mental hospital.
The court of appeals stated, “It is acknowledged that the defendants committed a serious crime of invading personal liberty and freedom of religion under the guise of advice on conversion. Despite that, they deny their crime. As they show no repentance, they should receive a harsh punishment.”
The victims have been making efforts to recover the human rights of the mental hospital abuse victims who are put in the blind spot of human rights, by launching the Human Rights Alliance for Mental Hospital Abuse Victims [JeongPiMo] in 2006, and called upon amendment and supplementation of the Mental Health Act that has a weak point.
Victim Ms. Jeong shed tears, saying in an interview, “For the past eight years, I’ve fought to clear myself of a false charge that I was a mental patient although sound in mind.”
She added, “The legal battle was once settled, but there are still many people who are suffering from forced conversion and forced admission to a mental hospital, and so a full-scale activity to protect them has now begun. We’re going to actively work for freedom of religion and protection of human rights guaranteed by the constitution, regardless of nationality.”
Meanwhile, the criminal suit against the two psychiatrists (Shin & Park), who were prosecuted without detention on charges of the violation of Punishment of Violences, etc. Act (joint conspiracy to confine) in regard to involuntary admission of the victims to a mental hospital, is currently pending in the Supreme Court. Before, they were sentenced to a fine of 7 million Korean won (7,000 USD) in the court of appeals after the original verdict of being not guilty.
Reporter Jeong Yeong-seok