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코리아헤럴드

Unsolved murders may escape prosecution

입력 2006. 03. 02. 02:50 수정 2006. 03. 02. 02:50

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Time is running out for authorities to bring to justice the killer of five children murdered in Daegu 15 years ago because the statute of limitations for the mysterious case expires on March 26.

Also, the time limit for prosecuting the serial rape-murders in Hwaweong, Gyeonggi Province, expires on April 2, prompting calls for a change to the law that restricts the statute of limitation for heinous crimes to 15 years.

In 1991, five elementary school boys, dubbed the "frog boys," were reported missing after venturing into the mountains to catch frogs.

The parents of the boys spent a fortune searching for their children throughout the country. Rumors saying that the children were abducted by North Korea or even taken by extra terrestrials were also spread.

The long-unresolved case almost disappeared from the public`s memory, but in 2002, the remains of the five boys were found in a hillside by a hiker.

A forensic team from Kyungpook National University in Daegu concluded that the children were murdered, but so far, has not found any evidence explaining how they were killed.

The high-profile criminal case has been shrouded in mystery for 15 years despite the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of police and other investigation personnel.

The serial murder case in Hwaseong involved 10 atrocious crimes carried out between 1986 and 1991, in which most of the victims were strangled to death after being raped. The culprit, allegedly in his 20s, used bizarre methods, including gagging women with their underwear. The statute of limitations on the final 10th notorious murder will expire after April 2, heightening the need to extend the period in which crimes can be prosecuted.

In August 2005, Rep. Moon Byung-ho of the ruling Uri Party submitted a bill which, if approved by the National Assembly, will lengthen the limitation from the current 15 years to 20 years.

"The purpose of the statute of limitation is to prevent unfair trials caused by lack of evidence of crime after some time. But now that the development of technology such as DNA tests makes it possible to accumulate proof even after a long period, it is natural to extend the statute of limitations," Moon said.

The current statutes, established in 1954, are based on Japanese criminal procedure law. However, Japan revised its code in 2004 to lengthen the period to 25.

Under U.S. federal law, there is no statute of limitations on murder cases.

(hjjin@heraldm.com)

By Jin Hyun-joo

Copyrightⓒ Herald Media INC. All rights reserved.

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