Dead Farmer Activist's Family Blocks Police from Forcing Autopsy
SEOUL, Oct. 23 (Yonhap) -- Police on Sunday tried to carry out an autopsy on the body of a farmer who died after being hit by a police water cannon during a protest late last year, but withdrew in the face of strong opposition from his bereaved family.
Baek Nam-gi, 69, died on Sept. 25 after spending months in a coma. He suffered the injuries after being hit by a water cannon during a demonstration in November. Baek is said to have taken part in the protest to urge the government to carry out its pledge to increase the price of rice.
Critics have argued that Baek died because of excessive force, while police have claimed there is no clear link between the water cannon and his death and sought to perform an autopsy to clarify the cause of death.
A local court issued a warrant to conduct the autopsy late last month, while attaching the condition that police would need to discuss the necessary procedures with the bereaved family. The deadline for the execution of the warrant is Tuesday.
To enforce the warrant, a group of police officers went to the Seoul hospital where Baek was treated and his body is being held earlier Sunday.
They were met by Baek's family, supporters and opposition party lawmakers who chained themselves together to prevent their entry. The morgue was also barricaded with furniture and other items. Police stopped attempting to force their way into the hospital.
No serious clashes or injuries were reported in the process. Around 800 police officers were deployed to the hospital as a precaution.