Ex-Korean presidents implicated

October 30, 1994|By New York Times News Service

SEOUL, South Korea -- After a long investigation, the South Korean government said yesterday that two former presidents engaged in a "premeditated military rebellion" in 1979 that led to their assuming power.

But the government said it would not prosecute the two men, Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae Woo, saying that they also had made positive contributions to the country and that a trial would reopen old wounds and divide the nation.

The decision by the Seoul District Prosecutor's Office is an attempt to close the book on a politically sensitive incident.

The "Dec. 12 incident," as it is usually called, took place less than two months after the longtime dictator Park Chung Hee was assassinated by the head of South Korea's intelligence agency.

Mr. Chun, then an army general, was in charge of investigating the assassination. Assisted by Mr. Roh and other officers, he arrested the army chief of staff, Chung Seung Hwa, in a violent confrontation. Mr. Chun has long said the arrest was necessary because of evidence linking Mr. Chung to the murder.

But the prosecutor's office said yesterday that the arrest was a well-planned mutiny designed to prevent Mr. Chun from being demoted.

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