Debate Starts Over Serial Killers Human Rights
The controversial disclosure of serial killer Kang Ho-soon's picture in the media has created a controversy over human rights and the public's right to know.
Kang, 38, who was arrested on suspicion of murdering a female student, confessed to killing another six women in southwestern Gyeonggi Province, Friday.
Officers took Kang to police stations and the crime scenes dressed in a cap and mask in order to protect his identity ― designed to protect his human rights, as recommended by the National Human Rights Commission in 2005.
But several newspapers and broadcasters released a mug shot of Kang Saturday, claiming the public's right to know is more important than a suspected felon's human rights.
The photo has quickly spread on the Internet, and the release has led to a hot debate about whether the disclosure was proper.
On the JoongAng Ilbo Web site, a user identified as rheo72, said, ``We have an `innocent until proven guilty' principle. It is not something the media can ignore at their discretion. What everybody wants is not always justice.''
Another blogger, khe0513, said, ``Family members of a suspect will suffer from criticism and mental pain if the suspect's face is released only because he or she is a brutal criminal. Kang has three sons. Even though Kang committed unforgivable crimes, it is not right that his family comes in for criticism.''
But others agreed with the disclosure. ``Can we call a person who killed others without guilt a human? Protecting a criminal's human rights is less important than protecting the human rights of victims and their families,'' said ijskgus.
``Some cite `innocent until proven guilty.' But the court ruling is not the only way of deciding guilt. If a person in a community commits a brutal act that the community cannot accept, it is guilt,'' blogger cintoe said.
In many advanced nations, the media disclose the names and photos of felons. On Jan. 29, the New York Times published photos of five teenagers who were suspected of slaying an Ecuadorian immigrant. In 2006, French media disclosed photos of a woman who was arrested for killing her two infant children when she lived in Seoul. Last June, Japanese media showed the face of a man in his 20s who killed seven people in Tokyo.
On Sunday, Kang reenacted the disposal of the bodies of three of his victims at three sites near Bibong Interchange in Hwaseong. He is to do the same for the remainder Monday.
Police are also investigating whether he committed more crimes, especially during the 22-month gap between the fifth killing in January 2007 and the sixth in November 2008.
They are also probing the death of his fourth wife and mother-in-law. The two died in a fire at his house in Ansan in 2005, only days after the wife signed four life insurance policies. Kang received 480 million won in insurance and police suspected Kang deliberately set fire for financial gain, but they found no evidence at the time.