Two S Korean teenagers run over
June 14, 2002
"We are deeply saddened by this tragic
event. I want to express my heartfelt condolences to the families of the
children and pledge our resolve to vigorously investigate this accident,"
he said. The incident occurred in Gwangjeok, 30
kilometers north of
He blamed the vehicle driver for careless driving. "I think the driver failed to see them. They were killed on the spot." The pair were hit by the right track of the vehicle, designed for makeshift bridge transport, Yonhap news agency said, adding the vehicle tried to pass a slower-moving vehicle by using the shoulder of the road.
South Korean police identified the two
14-year-old middle school students as Shin Hyo-Soon
and Shim Mi-Sun. They said the driver, Sergeant Mark Walker, was from a
Killings of young girls by
By Sharon Ayling
Workers World, August 1, 2002
Koreans have mounted nearly daily protests
for the past five weeks demanding that the
On July 14, 1,000 activists and students
rallied near the U.S. Army's 2nd Infantry Division base in Uijongbu,
on the northern outskirts of
On July 17, about 500 south
Korean high school students, some in their school uniforms, sang anti-U.S.
songs and tossed dozens of red paper planes over the base's 10-foot wire fence
that carried the message, "
Many thousands have signed a petition to the commander of the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division that reads in part, "At about 10:40 a.m. on June 13, an armored vehicle belonging to your U.S. 2nd Infantry Division crushed dead two innocent young girls, Shin Hyo Soon and Shim Mi Sun. We believe this incident was not an accident caused by a driver mistake. It was caused by your long-standing practice of safeguarding American vehicles at any costs with little respect for the lives of the Korean people. ... Let the Korean court prosecute not only the guilty driver but also his superiors."
The vehicle was a 60-ton AVLM, used to clear mines. It was part of a convoy traveling to a training exercise on Highway 56, a two-lane road winding past rice fields and small farms. The road, which has no sidewalk or shoulder, is a main pathway for pedestrians in the area.
At 12-feet wide, the AVLM was wider than the
lane it was in and so it extended about 30 inches off the road. At the time
that the girls were crushed, another convoy of
Military officials said that they are not
pulling AVLMs off the road in
The outraged community is demanding that the
Under SOFA, the Korean authorities cannot
investigate the tragedy because the 37,000
Following days of protest demonstrations,
The Korean movement is asking for
international solidarity actions, including a letter-writing campaign to
President Bush and joint demonstrations in front of
Bush effigy burned as
Protesters burned an effigy of US President
George W. Bush and scuffled with police Monday as the trial began of a
Anti-America sentiment has mounted here
Around 100 protesters rallied in front of
The protesters torched a large Bush effigy wrapped in the US flag and hurled hundreds of eggs at the barricaded US camp in a display of anger over the June 13 deaths.
For security reasons, only a small number of South Koreans, including officials and the victims' families, were allowed to attend the opening session of the court martial which is expected to last for three days.
Tempers flared at one point and some protesters kicked and punched riot police carrying shields and wearing helmets. But no arrests were made.
The demonstrators demanded that sergeants
Mark Walker and Fernando Nino be handed over to South Korean justice rather
than tried in a
The anti-US demonstrators chanted:
The soldiers are accused of negligent homicide and could face up to six years in prison if found guilty.
They are being tried separately, with Nino's
opening Monday and
"The court martial of Sergeant Mark
Walker, the vehicle driver, is scheduled to begin Thursday or when Nino's trial
Since the incident, South Korean civic
activists have staged demonstrations at
Some 37,000 American troops are stationed in
Critics say the military pact, aimed at
deterring war on the world's last Cold War frontier, is unfair because it
places US soldiers under
The South Korean girls were going to a
friend's birthday party when they were crushed to death by the
Walker, who was at the wheel of the 3.66-metre wide (12-foot) vehicle in a convoy participating in a field exercise, has been quoted as saying he was on the radio and could not hear a warning about the girls from the vehicle commander Nino.
Korean anger as US soldiers cleared
Friday, 22 November, 2002, 15:37 GMT
Sergeant Mark Walker, who was driving the 50-tonne armoured vehicle when the incident happened in June, was found not guilty of negligent homicide.
His colleague and the vehicle's navigator and commander, Sergeant Fernando Nino, was cleared of similar charges on Wednesday.
case, and the acquittals, have caused angry protests in
Dismissing the court cases as a sham, demonstrators hurled eggs and paint into the military camp where the trials were being held, and vowed to protest again on Saturday.
Following Friday's acquittal, army commander
Lieutenant General Charles Campbell repeated the
"I want again to express my sincere apology and deepest sympathy to the families of Shim Mi-Son and Shin Hyon-Sun. This was a tragic loss of life and we are deeply sorry," he said in a statement.
"Taken together, the verdicts in the two trials that were rendered by two different impartial panels indicate that what occurred was a tragic accident without criminal culpability."
"We cannot accept this fraudulent verdict, which is unimaginable in any law-abiding country," said spokeswoman Lee Mi-kyung, describing the decision as an "outrage to heaven and earth".
The party also called for revisions to be
made to the Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA, which governs the legal
treatment of US troops in
The South Korean government had asked for
jurisdiction in the case, but the
Shim Mi-sun and Shin Hyo-son,
14, were walking to a friend's birthday party on 13 June when they were mowed
down by the
The defence for Sergeant Nino argued that he alerted Sergeant Walker to the presence of the girls. The driver says he never heard the warning, because of an apparently defective communications system.