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North Korean Agent Testifies She Bombed Jet

March 08, 1989|From Associated Press

SEOUL — A confessed North Korean agent said in court Tuesday that she planted the bomb that blew a South Korean jetliner apart off the Burma coast in 1987, killing all 115 people aboard.

Relatives of victims shouted insults as security agents led Kim Hyun Hui into the courtroom for the opening session of her trial. One relative screamed "I'm here to kill you!" and another: "Bring back my husband!"

The 27-year-old defendant buried her face in her hands and sobbed.

Kim told the court later that she bombed the Korean Air Boeing 707 on orders from leaders of Communist North Korea who wanted to disrupt the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. The bomb exploded Nov. 29, 1987, on a flight to Seoul from Baghdad, Iraq.

Her admission came in response to questions by prosecutors. After the prosecution finished presenting its evidence, the court adjourned until March 21, when defense lawyers will present their case.

Senior prosecutor Ahn Kang Min asked Kim whether the order to bomb the plane came from Kim Jong Il, son and heir-apparent to North Korean leader Kim Il Sung. She whispered "Yes."

Recounting Kim's earlier confession to being a North Korean agent, the prosecutor said Kim Jong Il's order was issued through a senior Communist Party official. He said the bombing was intended to frighten foreign countries away from the Seoul Olympics.

Mass murder and destruction of an aircraft are among six counts against the defendant, and she could be sentenced to death if convicted, but indications are that her life will be spared.

About 1,500 police were present Tuesday at the Seoul District Criminal Court to hold back angry relatives and guard against a possible North Korean attempt to assassinate Kim.

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