A Seoul court yesterday ordered the South Korean government to pay almost US$26 million in compensation to families of eight pro-democracy activists executed on fabricated treason charges three decades ago.
The bereaved families will receive a total 24.5 billion won (US$25.6 million), court officials said.
"We welcome the court's verdict in the name of the bereaved families and history," the plaintiffs said in a statement.
The eight were executed in April 1975, less than a day after the South Korean Supreme Court found them guilty of trying to rebuild the Inhyeokdang pro-Communist party.
Their families had long asked that the case be reopened, saying that dictator Park Chung-hee had concocted the case to crack down on pro-democracy movements.
In January, the Seoul court found the eight not guilty of conspiring to form an underground pro-communist group to overthrow the government.
Following the landmark ruling, the bereaved families filed suit against the government.
The government had refused to pay compensation, insisting the statute of limitations had expired.
However, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, saying:"The court cannot agree that the Republic of Korea, the defendant that should help its people seek the right to happiness ... should try to avoid its responsibility with a clumsy excuse of the statute of limitations."
Reacting to the ruling, a statement by the families said: "The truth reveals itself however hard they try to cover it up. The ruling showed the immortal truth that justice will always win."