Against family’s wishes, warrant issued for autopsy on farmer Baek Nam-ki

Posted on : 2016-09-29 16:04 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Supporters and civic groups concerned that police will use results of autopsy to claim water cannon jet didn’t cause Baek‘s death
Following a court decision on Sep. 28 to issue a search
Following a court decision on Sep. 28 to issue a search

A warrant was finally issued for an autopsy on Baek Nam-ki, a farmer who recently passed away from injuries sustained in a demonstration in Seoul ten months ago.

But tensions over the autopsy remain high, with an activist group called the Baek Nam-ki Struggle Headquarters announcing that it would “have no choice but to fight the autopsy with all the power of the South Korean public.”

Following a court decision on Sep. 28 to issue a search, seizure, and examination warrant for Baek’s autopsy, the group - with the full name of the Headquarters for the Struggle to Investigate the Use of State Violence against the Farmer Baek Nam-ki, Punish Those Responsible, and Denounce a Murderous Administration - held a press conference at around 10:30 pm to reiterate its opposition to an autopsy.

“It is the position of [Baek’s] family members that they do not want the same police hands that took his life to touch his body,” the group said.

The group went on to say that “the cause of death is clear, and [an autopsy] is not something necessary or something we can agree to.”

Baek’s oldest daughter Doraji said, “I don’t want my father touched again by the hands of the people who caused his death. The family absolutely does not want an autopsy.”

Some analysts speculated the group might agree to the autopsy when it remained in a meeting for over two hours after the warrant decision without releasing an immediate statement. Tensions were visible around the Seoul National University Hospital funeral home after word of the decision got out.

At around 8:10 pm, Seoul Central District Court granted the search, seizure, and examination warrant for Baek’s autopsy after a second request two days earlier by prosecutors, who said an autopsy had to be conducted but that “objectivity, fairness, and transparency” should also be ensured.

Unusually, the court attached four conditions on the warrant’s issuance. One was that the autopsy should be conducted at Seoul National University Hospital if the family wanted, and that two doctors and one attorney appointed by the family should be present. Another condition was that there should be minimal physical damage and that the procedure should be filmed.

“Our first order of business right now is contacting the family tomorrow and hearing their opinions [on the autopsy],” said a senior police officer. “We plan to take the family’s opinion into the fullest consideration.”

The court rejected an autopsy warrant request filed the evening of Baek’s death on Sep. 25, accepting only the medical record portion while arguing that the procedure itself was “unnecessary and unjustified.” When prosecutors submitted another request the following day, it made the unusual move of demanding additional materials to “more clearly and specifically explain why an autopsy is necessary.” Around noon the following day, prosecutors submitted the additional materials. Around eight hours later, the warrant was issued.

Baek’s family and civic groups argued that the procedure was unnecessary because of the clear trauma Baek suffered when struck by a water cannon jet during the Nov. 2015 protest. The previous day, doctors with the Association of Physicians for Humanism and attorneys with MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society held a press conference to argue that the autopsy appeared intended “not to demonstrate the causal factors in the criminal act, but to provide grounds for exonerating the police as suspects.”

“Whatever the results of the autopsy, nothing changes about the act of homicide in the fact that the police‘s water cannon caused the death of the farmer Baek Nam-ki,” the group said.

By Heo Seung and Kim Ji-hoon, staff reporters

Please direct questions or comments to []


button that move to original korean article (클릭시 원문으로 이동하는 버튼)

Related stories

Most viewed articles