President Lee Slams Police for Negligence, Cover-Up of Failed Abduction of Schoolgirl
Ilsan Police Station chief Lee Ki-tae makes an apologetic bow as President Lee Myung-bak leaves the police precinct in the north of Seoul after criticizing officers for their negligent handling of a man's attempt to kidnap a schoolgirl. / Yonhap
By Kim Rahn
Police came under fire after they negligently reacted to an apparent attempt to kidnap a 10-year-old schoolgirl in Ilsan, Goyang, north of Seoul.
The attempted abduction by an unidentified man of a female child at an apartment complex was captured on CCTV (closed circuit TV) and broadcast nationwide to TV viewers. Police failed to swiftly react to the failed kidnapping and are suspected of having tried to cover up the case.
The mishandling of the case is infuriating citizens as it came just months after the kidnapping and murder of two schoolgirls by a neighbor in Anyang, Gyeonggi Province. President Lee Myung-bak also slammed police for their negligence in handling the case.
Last Wednesday, a man in his 50s threatened the girl with a knife and demanded she follow him into the elevator at her apartment in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, around 3:45 p.m. When the child refused, the man took her out of the elevator, which stopped on the third floor, by the hair and then pounded and kicked her.
The girl screamed for help and a neighbor on the first floor ran up to her. Witnessed by the neighbor, the man went upstairs to the fourth floor, took the elevator down to the first floor, and ran away.
The girl had her hair pulled out and received bruises to body. Her parents reported it to the nearby police branch office about 10 minutes after the incident.
Police officers collected testimonies from the parents and the neighbor and checked the CCTV recording in the elevator. Despite the apparent kidnap attempt, the officers reported to Ilsan Police Station the next day that it was ``just a simple assault case'' committed by a drunken man, based on testimony that he smelled of alcohol.
The day of the incident was the same day when the police announced a set of preventive measures against violence and kidnapping involving children, following the recent murders of two schoolgirls in Anyang.
With criticism growing, the police station launched a full-scale investigation three days after the incident took place, examining the CCTV which recorded his face and his beating the girl. The move came after the parents had already distributed leaflets about the incident to neighbors to catch the suspect.
Police are being criticized for neglecting the case and thus losing the chance to catch the suspect at an early stage. It was also reported that the police asked her mother not to talk about the case to the media.
President Lee Myung-bak said Monday that the public is incensed over the police's lukewarm attitude.
``As seen on the CCTV recording, it was really brutal. The state's utmost duty is to protect people's lives, but the police still show such an attitude at this time when many cruel cases remain unsolved and people feel pity for them. The police need to change,'' Lee said.
Kim Do-sik, chief of Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency, made a public apology. ``I apologize for the police's careless measure. We'll catch the suspect as soon as possible and punish officers found to have neglected their duties,'' he said.