South Korea removes statute of limitations on murder

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea has removed the time limit on prosecuting murderers, paving the way for further investigation of infamous cold cases, reports said on Saturday.

The National Assembly on Friday passed an amended criminal procedure law, removing the 25-year statute of limitations on first-degree murder in a near-unanimous vote, Yonhap news agency said.

The statute of limitations was originally 15 years but was extended to 25 years in 2007.

But that extension was not retroactive and murder cases that occurred in the early 2000s were coming close to the time limit for prosecution.

The new revision does not apply to second-degree murder, manslaughter and other kinds of death resulting from accidents.

There have been growing calls from the public to remove the statute of limitations on all serious crimes.

Unsolved cases, to which the removal of the statute of limitations will be applied, include the 2003 death of a 15-year-old girl who was found murdered and naked in the northern city of Pochon, three days after she went missing on her way to school.

Another case involved the murder of a taxi driver in 2000 in the southern city of Iksan.

A 15-year-old boy surnamed Choi was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the killing and served his full term, but an appeals court last month ordered the reopening of the case, accepting his claim that he was forced to make a false confession under duress while in police custody.