Dressed in a blue prison uniform, Lee Chun-jae confessed in court on Monday to be the serial killer who for years sowed terror in Hwaseong, a rural region south of Seoul.
But he has not done so in a trial where he was tried, but instead appeared as a witness in a new trial to another man who was convicted of one of those
crimes. “I am the real criminal,” Lee assured the judge. He and no one else is guilty of the deaths of 14 people (women and girls) and thirty sexual crimes, reports the Yonhap agency.
An investigation based on genetic tests revealed last year already pointed to the relationship of Lee, 57, with at least three murders. All these years have gone unpunished. He is serving a life sentence, but for another crime: the rape and murder of his sister-in-law in 1994.
Ten of the cases in which he has self-incriminated, now publicly, occurred in Hwaseong, south of Seoul, between 1986 and 1991 .
A little over a year ago, Lee confessed to the crimes to the police, including one for which another 53-year-old man with only his last name revealed, Yoon, was sentenced to life in prison in 1989. The novelty lies in that he has now declared it before a court, and has provided his testimony to exonerate those who he considers innocent of guilt.
“Someone told me that they had arrested a person with a disability, but I did not know for which of the crimes because I have committed many,” said Lee, reports CNN. Yoon, an uneducated man who suffers from polio, always maintained that the police had forced him to testify after torturing him . A police chief admitted last July that in the initial investigation in 1989, officers coerced him into signing a false confession.
“I sincerely apologize to Yoon, who was falsely accused of a murder that I committed and who served a prison sentence for it,” said Lee, while the aforementioned watched him calmly from the dock.
Lee was referring to the life sentence Yoon was sentenced to for the murder of a 13-year-old girl in 1988. He spent 20 years behind bars until he was released on parole in 2009. A year ago, when he learned that Lee had been released.
Indicted before the police, the man requested that his case be reopened and that he be tried again in light of the new facts. In that new hearing is the one that Lee has attended as a witness this Monday.
“I did not think that crimes would be buried forever,” the murderer commented in court in Suwon City. “I did not try to hide [the evidence] and I thought I would be easily caught.” He also assured that he still did not understand why he was never on the list of suspects.
Lee will not be prosecuted for prescribed cases. Asked why he committed the murders – which the director of Parasites , Bong Joon Ho, addressed in his film Memories of a murderer , Silver Shell from the San Sebastian Festival in 2003 – , he attributed them to impulsive acts.
“I neither planned nor prepared the crimes,” he said. “I wish the victims an eternal rest and I apologize to the bereaved families and all those involved in these cases,” he told the judge. “I have come, testified, and described the crimes in the hope that they will find some comfort in knowing the truth. I will live the rest of my life repenting.”