The Korea Herald


Politician charged with wrongful arrest of 'illegal immigrants'

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : May 31, 2024 - 14:17

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The South Korean police on Thursday said it has recently recommended an indictment against a local politician on charges of unlawfully detaining people he accused of immigration violations despite having no evidence.

The politician, who lost his bid to become a lawmaker in April's parliamentary election, is also facing potential charges for using violence against his victims during the unlawful arrests that he conducted in February and March of this year. Nine of his accomplices are also being charged with the same crimes, whose cases had also been forwarded to the prosecution by the Daegu Metropolitan Police Agency.

The politician is the leader of a far-right group called Jagukmin Boho Yeondae (translating as "Solidarity for Protection of Our Citizens"), which claims to capture illegal immigrants in South Korea to hand over to the immigration services.

But the police investigation found that the members of the group conducted multiple detentions based on nothing but their own suspicion.

Footage acquired by police showed that the illegal arrests included the use of force. The politician even posted on his YouTube channel a video of the group apprehending someone he suspected to be an illegal immigrant because they were on a motorcycle that did not have a license plate.

South Korean law stipulates that even those who are not law enforcement officers can detain a suspect, but only if the perpetrator had been caught red-handed and if the crime in question is one that is punishable by at least three years in prison. Not having a license plate is subject to an administrative fine, which means the clause would not apply in this case, even if the person had really been in the country illegally.

The clause also states that if a suspect has been apprehended by a citizen, they must hand over the suspect to the police as soon as possible. But the YouTube video in question showed that the group had struggled with a police officer, who was trying to prevent it from making the illegal arrest.

A total of 14 victims were unlawfully arrested by the group, some of whom turned out to be here legally. The authorities did not reveal how many of them were in breach of immigration regulations.

The suspects have maintained during the investigation that their actions were "legal arrest of suspects caught in action."

The group's illegal activities have sparked criticism from local groups. The civic group People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy last month held a protest urging the politician and the group to be arrested for their crimes.