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(2nd LD) Court rejects warrant to arrest governor's son over alleged military abuse

2014/08/19 18:45

SEOUL, Aug. 19 (Yonhap) -- An arrest warrant sought against the son of a provincial governor accused of physically and sexually abusing his subordinates in the military was turned down Tuesday on the grounds that he has no danger of fleeing or destroying evidence, the Army said.

Military prosecutors had sought the arrest warrant for the 23-year-old Army corporal, who is the eldest son of Gyeonggi Province Governor Nam Kyung-pil, for allegedly beating one of his subordinates in the stomach and face on seven occasions since April at their barracks.

He is also accused of sexually harassing another junior soldier, touching his genitals and rubbing his own genitals against the subordinate's hips, Army officials said. All names were withheld.

The military court of the Sixth Infantry Division, however, rejected the prosecution's request after a review session, according to the Army.

"Though the alleged crimes took place for a long time in a consistent fashion, Nam admitted his wrongdoings, the victims did not want to punish him, and the alleged wrongdoings deem not to be too serious," the Army spokesman, Choi Yong-han, told reporters, explaining the reason for the dismissal.

"But the prosecution is planning to review whether to file for the arrest warrant again," he said, noting that the suspect will continue to come under probe without physical detention.

Although the corporal admitted the allegations, he told investigators that he had done it "just for fun," according to the Army.

"We've separated the suspect from the victims, and the subordinates did not sustain injuries and have been in a stable condition," Choi said, vowing to "sternly deal with the case."

   "Right after learning about the cases upon a witness account inside the barracks last week, we launched an investigation into Nam on Wednesday," the spokesman said, rejecting suspicions raised by civic activists that the military has been trying to cover up the case.

The governor, who is also a five-term lawmaker with the ruling Saenuri Party, apologized for his son's alleged wrongdoing in a press conference on Sunday.

The case is the latest in a series of violent incidents involving enlisted soldiers in recent months. In April, an Army private first class died after allegedly having long suffered physical, mental and sexual abuse by senior colleagues, prompting the Army chief to step down and the military to come up with measures to eradicate ills at the barracks.

Gyeonggi Governor Nam Kyung-pil shakes hands with an Army draftee who took part in the Ulchi exercises, on Aug. 19, 2014. (Yonhap)

Gyeonggi Governor Nam Kyung-pil shakes hands with an Army draftee who took part in the Ulchi exercises, on Aug. 19, 2014. (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr

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