Archive for Thursday, June 22, 2000

Mass-killing probe items handed over

June 22, 2000


— South Korean investigators have received an aerial photograph and transcripts of interviews with more than 70 American veterans as part of a probe of an alleged mass killing of refugees by GIs in the Korean War, U.S. and Korean officials said Wednesday.

Survivors of the alleged attack at the hamlet of No Gun Ri complained at a news conference in Seoul on Wednesday that the Pentagon was not sharing information with their South Korean counterparts.

"We suspect the Pentagon is trying to block a swift and impartial investigation by not sharing data crucial to learning the truth about No Gun Ri," the survivors said in a statement.

A senior South Korean military officer said in an interview Wednesday the sides were working together. Washington and Seoul had previously agreed to fully share data to ensure their separate investigations are impartial.

"We have no problem as far as information-sharing is concerned," said Lt. Gen. Kim Jong-hwan, the chief No Gun Ri investigator at Seoul's Defense Ministry. He said his investigators had received two boxes of papers from the Pentagon.

The Pentagon also recently sent South Korea an aerial photo of No Gun Ri taken Aug. 6, 1950, some 11 days after the alleged killings. Survivors claimed the photograph was doctored because it showed no evidence of a strafing or bodies, but the Pentagon stood by the authenticity of the photo.

Korean officials said the Pentagon did not turn over one of the declassified documents at all and that the second was not received until its existence was disclosed in news reports, and Korean investigators requested it.

Kim said a document that states U.S. Air Force planes strafed columns of civilian refugees was received only after Korean investigators learned of its existence from a CBS-TV news report June 5.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. Craig Quigley said later that the Pentagon had held that document "for a while" before the CBS broadcast.

The second document was a captured North Korean report claiming U.S. soldiers shot and killed South Korean refugees in circumstances that match those at No Gun Ri in key details, the South Korean officials said.

The document, dated Aug. 2, 1950, and translated by the U.S. Army within a few weeks of its capture, indicated the U.S. high command knew about the killings near the town of Yongdong, eight miles from No Gun Ri, almost immediately after the incident.

The document was reported by The Associated Press and South Korean news media last week. South Korean investigators said they acquired that document independently.

In Washington, Army spokesman Maj. Tom Collins denied the survivors' accusation that the investigators were not sharing information. He said both the North Korean captured document and the document about aerial bombing had been sent to the Korean investigators.

"The United States and the Army have pledged to share information with the Korean side, and we have done that," he said Wednesday.

The Pentagon opened an investigation last year after the AP quoted U.S. veterans and South Korean survivors saying American GIs carried out a mass killing of civilians July 26-28, 1950, at No Gun Ri.

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