UN envoy urges probe into death of SKorean protestor

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SEOUL: A UN rights envoy has called for an independent investigation into the death of a South Korean protester, shot by police water cannon during an anti-government rally last year. Baek Nam-Ki, a 69-year-old farmer, died Sunday after falling into a coma last November when he was hit by a water cannon used by police during a massive protest against Seoul’s labor policies. His plight has sparked widespread outrage with the police coming under fire for what critics describe as excessive use of force during public rallies. UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai voiced “dismay” over Baek’s death in a statement published late Wednesday, calling for a probe to punish those responsible. “I call for a full and independent investigation into the police’s use of water cannon during the rally … that unambiguously led to (his) death according to video footage available,” Kiai said. “The perpetrators should be held accountable and the family of Mr. Baek receive appropriate compensation; in addition, adequate measures must be taken to prevent a similar tragedy from happening in the future,” he said. The protests on November 14 — involving more than 60,000 people — led to violent clashes with police, who sprayed water cannons and pepper spray at demonstrators, injuring dozens.

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