Prison for 18 at Hoiryeong Show Trial

Kim Kwang Jin  |  2013-02-07 19:52
Heavy punishments have been handed down to a total of eighteen people for drug-related crimes at a public trial in Hoiryeong, North Hamkyung Province. Laborers from local factories and other workers were compelled to attend the trial, the first such public event in the remote northern city for a year.

A well-connected source from the area told Daily NK on the 6th, The public trial of those eighteen was held on the 29th. It was the first trial held here since May last year. The authorities ordered everyone to attend it; factory workers and even students.

Of the eighteen, five were sentenced to ten years of re-education through labor for drugs offences, another eight got three years of the same for fraud, and the remaining five were handed six month terms in labor camps, he went on.

Hitherto, people involved in crimes like this kind of petty fraud were sent to labor camps, but this time more severe punishments were meted out, the source noted. The official from the municipal Peoples Safety Ministry who oversaw the public trial told the audience, From now on those whose crimes involve corrupting our socialist morality and committing abuses against our society will face more severe punishments under the law.

North Korea has a long tradition of performing public executions as well as public trials in order to instill fear in the broader citizenry and reduce crime rates in certain sectors. Statements related to the alleged crimes of those executed are used to send a strong social signal to those watching about regime security priorities.

However, international criticism of North Koreas use of public executions is thought to have pushed the regime into curtailing its use of that tool of social control. For the time being, only public trials continue.

The process of the public trial and the sentences to be handed down are all pre-prepared by the Peoples Safety Ministry: the court is only in charge of handing down the sentence itself. North Koreas criminal code is almost entirely ignored throughout the trials, which can more accurately be described as show trials.
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